Friday, December 31, 2010

Leg 3: IAH-LBB. Jiggity-jig.

Culture is a bitch, and she don't let go.

Leg 2: CLV-IAH.

Leg 1: BDL-CLV.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A tradition is a tradition because it helps people, learn, remember, or rediscover who and *where* they are.

Great insight from Rachel Unthanks: "We're just custodians. The tradition is in charge."

CW: Shut up and listen: the tradition knows more than you do.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Isn't it interesting how accusations of "political correctness" never come from the people whose sensibilities are being considered?

Legal Sea Food, Pahk Plazer Hotel. After US Passport Office, ANYTHING's an improvement.

NM: dogs in fresh snow.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mass Pike, "blizzard!" frenzy, family at the end of the road.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Hoops commercials: as a New Englander, I can say AIN'T NO WAY Chris-Craft restorers drink Coors Light.

Hoops commercials: as a New Englander, I can say AIN'T NO WaY

In other news, Jeff van Gundy is a mouthy, unfunny little punk.

Heat-Lakers: Phil on bench can't mitigate Kanye, Dustin, L David et al courtside & Kobe etc on court. Go Miami!

"Santa Claus is Comin' to Town"

With all due respect to the Who, the Clash, the Minutemen, NRBQ, the New Barbarians, the Allman Brothers Band, and every no-name bar-band in the land who, on any given night, deserve the title....

this is the greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world.

Best moment? When the girl in the front row, realizing what's about to happen, yells "Oh, he's gonna do it!" (e.g., this song)

Feliz Navidad, y'all.

May we all get where we're going with as much grace as the ones who Went before.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Leg 3: ORD-BDL. Gettin' close now.

Note to Anderson/Nuggets: Vanilla Ice called--he wants his hairstyle back.

Leg 2: IAH-ORD.

IAH. Time for the Prez Club's free Bloody Marys.

Leg 1: LBB-IAH.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"I want" is overrated.

Does this year's lack of psychotic fear-mongering about the "War on Christmas" by Kyl, Inhofe, O'Reilly et al mean the war was won? Or lost?

Not a huge Saints fan, but ANYTHING--even a 10-4 record--that undermines Bush/Rove ethnic cleansing of the City is a good thing.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Crowd for Boston Celtics at home: Jesus, that's a panorama of the City's immigrant heritage, right thayah.

Let's just say Texans don't show to best advantage in a retail situation.

Let's just say Texans don't show to best advantage in a retail sat

CW: Work imaginatively with what's available.

Sen. Tom Coburn is threatening filibuster of 9/11 Responders relief plan. His message: "Protect my candy-kane cowardly ass & then go die."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bike-sailing the freeways: Check it, Mike Berry!

Monday, December 20, 2010

CW: Model the behavior you expect.

Almost certain that "Cactus Christmas", if imbued w/ values of owner, sucks greed-soaked tacky rocks.

Racist "Council of Conservative Citizens" wet their pants over Stringer Bell, even when he plays a cartoon:

Upon 1st glance at New Yorker in months: when the fuck did these people become oligarchs??

Foner: "The point is not to condemn individuals or an entire region, but face candidly the central role of slavery in our national history."

Holy crap! Free VOIP calls via Gmail through 2011! Skype-killer!

Wouldn't be sorry to see "epic" discontinue as positive-modifier-du-jour. Propose "piquant" instead. ;-)

"'I’m Willing To' Be Called A Bigot If That’s What It Takes To Target Muslim Community". OK: you're a bigot.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wes on the coffeeshop sound system!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

After losing the Captain, I miss FZ more & more.

And, in other news: John McCain is a senile, hateful old man. And a fake.

Friday, December 17, 2010

And why do the out-of-towners pick ME as the grocery customer most likely to advise on local booze laws?

Retail 1 week before Xmas: it's as if these people have been lobotamized.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Great Christmas recording ever made

Louis Gohmert (R-Ignoramus) argues that armies tolerating homosexuality have always been "near the end of existence"

Post-finals bug-out done begun. Bye kids!:)

CW: Compliments--like pies--are partly random and wholly temporary.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

NM: horrible nightmares, interrupted sleep, anxious awakening, stressful day--and the Eastern sky a pearly, iridescent dawn. Waking Up.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

CW: Taste everything.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

"Journalism is not an attack, Wikileaks is not warfare" (& war criminals, like roaches, hate the light):

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Uh, Joe? You have to be a *citizen* to be guilty of "treason". You fucking imbecile.

No tax cuts for millionaires!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Columbia remembers that universities are supposed to be about the free flow of information:

Sunday, December 05, 2010

2nd day of Zappadan: I miss Frank.

CW: honor the elders.

CW: respect the tools.

More than 1/2 of documents released by Wikileaks weren’t classified. Only 6 percent were “secret.” 2.5 million already had access to them.

Friday, December 03, 2010

TTU faculty:

Out there in the wilds on behalf of Good stuff!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Awesome music from Quebec: De Temps Antan:

Having worked retail, am really glad I don't have to do food service for these selfish, obtuse, entitled infants.

Friday, November 26, 2010

CW: don't let the flame go out.

NM: morning walk in the High Hills, crystalline 6 degrees: rakish black & white magpie hops behind a tree when he sees us coming.

CW: Respect the ingredients; avoid waste.

CW: Don't dick around with distractions: start when it's time to begin.

Don't buy shit today! We exist to make things (objects, friendships, art, lives), not buy things!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

In wake of Brit Conservative "austerity" (really "protect the rich"), Royals wedding plans are obscene.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gonzalez admits he knew of Geneva violations:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

CW: ultimately, we are ALL part of the food chain.

CW: typically, creating something is far more satisfying than buying something.

CW: direct relation: higher incidence of home-cooked meals = happier & healthier life.

Colm Toibin: "Looking at Ireland, I don't know whether to laugh or cry"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lesson learned (again): direct equation: later the semester-week, the louder (& dumber) the coffeeshop discourse.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NM: bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic, low November light, but a V of westering geese honking by, close overhead.

Friday, November 12, 2010

James Murphy: "The best way to complain is to make things";

I'm from Up North; "cold weather" is just a reminder (which some of the Entitled Infantile definitely require) that we DON'T control everything.

Amazaing how peaceful it is round here when "cold" weather keeps children home.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

This is one of the great Wisdom-bearing Elders of our English-speaking tribes; LISTEN!

CW: Keep track of time.

CW: Accept that the greatest successes will disappear most quickly.

CW: Trust your nose (intuition).

CW: Pay attention.

CW: Avoid waste, as it is unaesthetic & disrespectful.

CW: Practice basic skills.

CW: Memorize the fundamentals.

CW: Know when to punt.

CW: Trust your choices.

CW: Create for the heart & spirit as well as the tongue & the belly.

CW: Workable improvisation comes from practice & familiarity with ingredients.

CW: Clean & store as you go.

CW: Don't clatter.

CW: A plan is just a goal + a sense of the right next step.

CW: Clean as you go.

CW: Use the right tools.

Herewith "Cook's Wisdowm."

I've joked for years that I'd be a "bad monk, but a good Trnzo."

Dogen Zenji wrote a spiritual manual employing kitchen metaphors: "Instructions to the Cook."

In Zen monasteries, the Cook (Tenzo) was considered 3rd in spiritual authority, after Roshi ("old teacher") and head monk.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Middle-schoolers singing African songs w/ quite-competent amadinda-style percussion: quite peaceful.

Cars full of excited kids going to their gig--I like this energy.

Monday, November 08, 2010

NM: faintest sliver of a golden crescent moon, glowing behind high thin nighttime clouds.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Feeling particularly conscious of Samsara, tonight.

Tom Watson (Populist Party) nailed it 120 years ago

Tom Watson, 1893:

“You are kept apart that you may be separately fleeced of your earnings. You are made to hate each other because upon that hatred is rested the keystone of the arch of financial despotism which enslaves you both. You are deceived and blinded that you may not see how this race antagonism perpetuates a monetary system which beggars both.” [Zinn 285]
The motivation--greed--never changes. It never will.

Got to STAND UP!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Roseanne Cash responds to John Boehner's taking of her daddy's name in vain:

"We are building a new society in the shell of the old." --IWW Preamble, which I taught today. OBU!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Davey Spillane, Eoghan O'Neill, Donal Lunny, "Downtown": some possible hope for humans' potential for greatness.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

NM: walk back, bright stars, no wind, silence, yellow crescent moon like an upturned goblet fuul of tunes, 2:40am.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chris Buckley (fiddle), Dan Lowery (flute), meself (bouzouki). This could get Dangerous.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

NM: coming off Caprock into canyon & range, bright chill sun, one turkey buzzard etched sharply against blue sky.

Monday, October 25, 2010

NM: in the midst of a day of sadness, a sunset of stunning, roseate, Turner-esque beauty.

Working draft to Press's & Series's acquisitions editor. Page count: 419. Word-count: 102.627. Next stage now!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

American Musicological Society Southwest Chapter Meetings: git down.

Friday, October 22, 2010

They still some student musicians in this world who mistake "attitude" for "professionalism." They gonna be sorry.

Our boys in the Battlefield Band welcome the Chilean miners home: class all the way:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

NM: dark rain clouds rolling in from the south, with a cold wind sweeping all before them.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Turkey in the Straw" = "Possum up a gum stump," what Hans Nathan calls "an Ohio River tune of the 1820s." See

Numinous moment

NM: catching teeth-gritting ice-cream truck jingle on wind, & realizing that, 1000 miles west & 200 yrs later, it's "Possum up a gum stump."

Monday, October 18, 2010

Numinous moment

NM: that moment, in the session, when two players lean in close to better hear one another--one way we say "I love you, man."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Note to frat kids: saying your fashion show or dance marathon or teeter-totter game is "for charity" doesn't make it any less narcissistic.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Not unrealistic to infer that a college prof teaching 1100-1300 undergrads over a decade might have a better grasp of late-adolescent mentalities $ maturation.

Of *course* music is a sacred, holy thing. Isn't it obvious?!?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Note on the Hallowe'en season: don't bring that "glittery emo douchebag Twilight shit" anywhere near me. I've got garlic & wooden stakes.

Sometimes, as a teacher, it's the compassion you dispense, as much as the content, that matters.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Why I iz Firefox uzer: REYNARD!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Still wondering why the fuck outside reviews tend to exploit their anonymous status to grind irrelevant axes. Not a way I choose to be.

Numinous moment

NM: the complex chatter, argument & over-the-back-fence gossip of early morning bird-song.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lotsa traffic on R candidate Iott, a Waffen SS re-enacter. Nobody's commented on the KILT in this photo: fuckin' Celtic-Supremacists!

The King of Rock and Soul

We lost Solomon Burke, the Wonder Boy Preacher.

JB was more desperate, the Wicked Pickett was more dangerous, Otis was more of a leader, Brother Al was more messianic, Sam & Dave more competitive.

But Brother Solomon, more than any of the rest, made us believe in the gospel of the music. When Solomon sang, we all still believed we could be saved.

"Turn on Your Love Light."

Thank you, Solomon. You surely turned it on for us.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Palpable city-wide sigh of relief as Fall Break begins and kids bug-out of town.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Useful skill: learning to provide interviews in easily-transcribed bites lessens likelihood of misquotation:

Numinous moment

NM: pristine cloudless sky, cool temps, light breeze--cycling feels like bird's flight.

Frickin' LOVE Google Maps!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Memo to pickup-truck frat-pigs passing my bike, blaring Wu-Tang (who'd scare 'em green on street): "yes, bitch, I AM laughing at you."

Numinous moment

NM: slivered crescent moon rises over die-straight W TX east-bound streets & lines of traffic lights--all green.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Suffering results when we forget that we are all *already* home.

Pete Seeger's wisdom: "It’s a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with."

Saturday, October 02, 2010

In the face of humans' greed & brutality, the only weapon is a greater, more radical humanity.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Tea Party movement has provided quasi-legitimacy to fear, ignorance, bigotry, and greed. These are not core American values.

New tires (Schwalbe Marathon) EXPENSIVE (80 bucks!!!) but also AWESOME.

Numinous moment

Numinous moment: pouring milk into dark coffee--it curls and rises from the depths like slow-motion wind storm.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lemme reiterate that a narcissistic film about the foundation of a billion-dollar social network celebrating narcissism DOESN'T INTEREST ME!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A man got to have a code

My hero, David Simon, wins a MacArthur Genius Grant.

Fuckin' A!

h/t to Ghost in the Machine.

Memo to those having long/loud conversations about "God's Plan" for themselves--would you be equally tolerant of "Allah's Plan" public talk? No, I thought not.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mark of OCD good day: arriving early enough to get preferred coffeehouse corner. 12 years ago, it was preferred IU library corner; same-same.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Inglourious Basterds: one more confirmation that Quinton Tarentino is as soulless as only a Hollywood weasel can be.

Yow! New Breughel!

Crescent City royalty

'Fess and the Mighty Meters

h/t to Richard Blaustein

Friday, September 24, 2010

Insight: Fox News audience aging out: Colbert/Stewart monopolizing young viewers Fox can't draw:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Khyber Pass geography favors local insurgents, generals say

Retired US Army colonel says:

I have been saying for years that supply line interdiction is the greatest danger to our forces deployed in places like Iraq and Afghanistan in the midst of potentially hostile populations.
Newsflash: Darius, Alexander, Mughals, Auckland, Elphinstone, McNaghten, Chamberlain, Roberts, Kipling, Brezhnev, agree.

We never fuckin' learn, do we? Not in 2,000 years.

War mongers and dirty fucking hippies

And, at the time, they called us dirty disloyal fucking hippies for even daring to think this might be true.

via Think Progress on 9/23/10

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My toasted "personal work" morning: SIX recommendation letters. Thank the Universe for online submissions!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fox News is populated by and targeted toward frightened ignorant white people.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Jesus. There are times when I've just HAD IT

Weather prophecy:

Chance of rain <=> desire to go to pub session. Cloudier skies = more desire to play. You can take the boy out of Ireland, but you can't...

Giants on the earth

They were giants on the earth in those days. Paul Gonsalves on tenor, the mighty Sam Woodyard on drums, Harry Carney on baritone kicking the rhythm section's ass, Basie's great drummer Jo Jones standing offstage screaming encouragement, and Elaine Anderson dancing ecstatically in the aisles in a little black dress: Newport, '56, playing the blues, bringing the Ellington band all the way back from the deserts of the post-WWII depression.

Nice video tribute here:


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Line from Downey "Sherlock Holmes": we know you don't believe in magic. You're right: I believe in human effort and human capacity.

Thanks again, you Tea-Baggers

[bootlegged from a comments thread on friend's FB page--which same location I try to avoid, as threads can get hijacked]

Re/ O'Donnell's Pyrrhic victory in Delaware (yes, Tea-Baggers, I know you've never heard the word "Pyrrhic": that's why I use it):

@Alice: I agree. There's a (loud) lunatic fringe of frightened elderly middle-class or angry disenfranchised working-class folks who find people like Sharia Palin and Xtian O'Donnell "empowering," but I suspect that the Tea-Baggers spell the end of the Republican part as a viable competitor--because the corporatist Republican mainstream will NEVER be sufficiently ideologically pure--hence, they're going to continue to get dumped.
Bring it, you mothers. You sold your souls to loud lunatics, and your party is toast as a result. Have a nice day!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Yes, I am in fact one evil sumabitch

Amusing exchanges with supervisees:

One of the more enjoyable parts of my job is the level of shared respect and hard-won comity between me and my supervisees especially when they're out there in the trenches as teachers. It's a hard job, not much respected, and poorly recompensed compared to, I dunno, Halliburton monster or NCLB bureaucrat...but we have a lot of laughs and some funny exchanges:

Herewith one such:


BTW, I’m teaching a Friday morning class 8-11AM. Since the first class 2 out of 14 students have shown up on time. In fact, the students are so late that they show up by 8:30. I will be implementing my right to drop students for the first time ever. I don’t even know how to do it, but I’m going to do it. This is ridiculous.


Yeah. That is a bear. Suggestion? Give them 15 minutes; give the 2 who are on time extra credit, leave a note on the door saying "all those who were tardy for this class are being marked with a zero", and LEAVE. Keep doing that until they show up on time.


Good suggestion. Unfortunately, I have to be there for what I’m getting paid for. You seem to think I’m an actual educator. They expect me to be there for the time I’m paid. So, I’m thinking I will implement either 1. actually withdraw students from my class (a pain in the ass for me) or 2. give the “extra credit” quizzes you so mention and drop grades for absences. I’ve never had to deal with this before, it sucks that I even have to think about this. I’m currently leaning for option 1 because that means I don’t have to deal with them any more. I’m trying to decide if it’s worth the effort. At any rate, I’m not making these decisions because I feel I want to get at somebody. I’m doing this because it’s detrimental to the very few students that are doing the right thing and it keeps me from actually teaching. I can’t believe how much time has been wasted in the past few weeks because of this. It blows my mind.

Dr Coyote:

I understand. Well, you could have a graduated set of penalties:

1) next meeting, give a 1-question "pop quiz" to the ones who are there promptly. Give them extra credit. Tell the tardy ones there will be pop quizzes each class, at 8am, from now on.
2) If they continue to be tardy, mark the late ones absent.
3) If they still continue, use my original suggestion, and leave a sign on the door that says "now 8:20am. You are receiving no credit, due to your tardiness. I am available to discuss this, NOW, at [office][coffeeshop][student lounge]" etc.
4) drop 'em. I assume the college would prefer this to be last-ditch option, also.

You could also just tell the prompt ones, at 8am straight up "next class meeting is a [x alternate site]." Don't mention again. When the tardy ones complain that they "didn't know where class was meeting," tell them "the announcement was made; class met; you were marked absent."


You’re one evil sumabich. I like it. ;)


As I tell the young'uns in the freshman class: "Don't even think about cheating. I'm a worse criminal than you can ever imagine."

The genius that is Tim Toles

I grew up on the cold rocky coasts of the North Atlantic. I knew those guys from Southie and Dorchester who, even if they weren't very well educated, knew damned well when somebody was taking advantage of them, or talking down to them. I worked on the fishing boats alongside the descendants of those foul-mouthed fishermen and rope-wainers who boarded the Dartmouth and threw that shit overboard.

Yo, Tea-Baggers? You ain't the descendants of those guys in the feathers and paint: you're the descendants of all those timid middle-class citizens who didn't give a shit who got ripped off as long as it "wasn't your affair," and then screamed bloody murder when it was your turn. And you dickhead Republican congress-critters who are used frightened old white people and braindead rednecks to do your bidding? Your time is coming too.

I got your Tea Party right here, morons. And so does Tim Toles:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bazaar of the Bizarre*

Crazy-busy at Study Abroad fair. This is good!

*(reference is to the great Fritz Leiber and his characters Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser--the greatest sword-and-sorcery stories ever)

Study Abroad & the Ireland Seminar

TTU Study Abroad Fair TODAY, 10a-4m, Croslin Room, Main Library, TTU. Come & find about about the Ireland seminar:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Around Southie, we use militias as beer mats

Great line from Dennis Lehane: "Militias? Ya mean those fucknuts who wear camo, but they drive on state roads & drink city water?"

Goebbels was a college professor, too

Newt Gingrich is an embarrassment to anyone who ever earned a Ph.D.

Mighty music: Trian

My favorite US-based Irish trio: Trian (only competitor: original Chulrua); check out "The Torrid Romance"

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dude, you have no Koran!

23-yr-old skateboarder pwns psychotic bigot from "Repent Amarillo":

Country club fucks like John Boehner are always cowards

John Boehner is a coward (but then we knew that):

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Desperate, hungry and angry people"

from Negro League great Buck O'Neill:

"They claim to kill in the name of God. That’s not Christianity. That’s not Judaism. That’s not Islam. That’s a religion of desperate, hungry and angry people. They figure they have nothing. So, they have nothing to lose."

Totally digging the "Francis O'Neill Cylinders" from the Ward archives; thanks for the loan, @Roger Landes!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

NOT the real Terry Jones

Not in MY America, Jones! White House wins one:

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

"And we're out"

Place is overrun with bimbos and the volume level is rising. Time to bail.

Monday, September 06, 2010

We are all sentient beings.

Numinous moment: at coffeeshop, old hippie brings out a cup of water to his elderly mongrel, who laps happily.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Pirates, Freebooters & Jolly Jack Tars

"Pirates, Freebooters & Jolly Jack Tars": TTU Celtic Ensemble on Talk Like a Pirate Day, 9.19. 7pm!

Awareness of suffering = compassion

From the great teacher Pema Chodron: "Use your personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings."

Thursday, September 02, 2010

WWGD ("What would Gary do?")

Well, he wouldn't fuckin' knuckle under, that's for sure.

"What would Gary do?"

Coping w/ funk: WWGD? "What would Gary (Snyder) do"? My hero:

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Book"-shops in airports

Odds that an airport "book"-shop will contain actual reading matter that WON'T dissolve brain-cells? < 0

Monday, August 30, 2010


PHX: Well, it may be ground-zero for state-mandate Know-Nothing fascist intolerance...but the airport's got free wi-fi!

Sunday, August 29, 2010


TTU Musicology hosts AMS-SW chapter meeting Oct 23-24 2010. PLEASE PASS THE WORD!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Got yer class war right here, you CEO bastards!

For the same reason: so that working-/middle-class money winds up in CEOs & shareholders' pockets. It IS class war: they started it!

NB: the financial elites don't want to "cut" Social Security: they want to *privatize* it--just like Iraq reconstruction, US army, etc.

Memo to the ladies who lunch...

Who wear $1000 worth of "workout" clothes and full war-paint at 8 in the morning, drive $60,000 cars, push $2000 strollers, talk louder than the entire rest of the room:

Do you do anything other than consume? If not, why not?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Healing Power

Was recently reminded of this one, which I hadn't thought of in years. Used to play this tune, transcribed from this performance by the Night Music band, Bootsy Collins, composer/pianist Carla Bley, and the great bassist Steve Swallow.

Y'all hip to Healing Power, baby?

People Get Ready

Greatest song that Curtis Mayfield ever wrote and, with Dan Penn's Dark End of the Street and Sam Cooke's A Change is Gonna Come, a song that helped end segregation in this country.

And, this is the only band situation which Rod Stewart never postured: the mighty Jeff Beck, a true survivor.

And I keeps one in the chamber in case you pondering.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pristine cloudless sky, cool breeze, 76 degrees on the South Plains. Gassho.

Monday, August 23, 2010

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren..."

Jesus was a radical, too:

We believe it is time to shine light on the hypocrisy of politicians and pundits who expound on the freedom of religion for their chosen sects while seeking to tell our Muslim brothers and sisters where they can and cannot worship. Using a political podium to bully a religious community threatens one of our most fundamental freedoms.
Not hatred.

Unexpected bonus: the great Betty "Bebop" Carter on the coffeeshop sound system.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Numinous moment

Numinous moment: hundreds of dragonflies, like mythic beasts out of fantasy, sweeping in circles over the suburban lawns.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

And the little girls in the Paris Hilton-wannabee sunglasses absorbedly texting while their parents carry their stuff into the dorms.

Watching fraternity pods in the grocery-store is funny, but it's also pitifully obvious that they're incapable of feeding themselves. Mom?!?

Bach would have approved

This is very possibly the greatest bass line in the history of popular music. In my "Jif & the Choosy Mothers" (horn band) days, I transcribed an entire set's worth of Motown horn parts and bass lines. It was a stone education.

Ladies & gentlemen, I give you the great, great Wilton Felder:

Selah (and a h/t to my great teacher, Larry "Guitar" Baeder).

The 'Rents have Arrived

Summer must be over: the parents have arrived: overdressed, overcoiffed, driving oversized gas-guzzling cars with out-of-zip-code plates the wrong way on campus roads, buying cheap university-brand knockoff hoodies and ball-caps for their offspring, who are hidden behind Paris Hilton sunglasses and tremulous posturing bravado. The parents look simultaneously possessive and petulant, simultaneously irked that they're not in control of their offspring's situation anymore and scared that they've done an inadequate job of preparing those offspring to take over their own lives.

In Texas, where privilege runs high and a sense of consequences is nil, the quicker the parents leave the better: because it means we can start doing the job of maturing their children which they themselves omitted to complete. Sheesh!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Little bit of Hieland hyperbole, right here

Bill Millin, who piped them ashore at Swords Beach, has died.

He went in with the Special Service Brigade near Caen on D-Day., and in the nightmare of that horrific kill-zone, Lord Lovat, the hereditary chieftain of the Frasers asked him to play. Millin was willing, but cited War Office regulations, which forbade thus exposing pipers as targets. The Fraser replied "Ah, but that’s the English War Office. You and I are both Scottish, and that doesn’t apply.”

He played "Highland Laddie," up and down the beach that day. Later, German gunners who had him their sights said they didn't shoot “because they thought I was crazy.”

No. He wasn't crazy. That's not what they call it, back where I--and the MacGregors and Orrs, the Roundheads and Tories, before me--come from.

I often wonder if the rich men in quiet offices, the demagogues screeching over loudspeakers or Twitter accounts, hundreds or thousands of miles from the firing line, ever consider how little they deserve the courage of the men and women who go into battle.

Aw haw hey, Private. Go well.

Of the seven Silver Star recipients in Afghanistan, four are Hispanic. Hope none of them want to walk down the street in Arizona!

Wheel of karma: turning in key of first office here, after 10 years' occupancy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Semester looms: newbies on campus driving as if whacked-out on Quaaludes.

Effort = value

From a post about exploiting social networking, the following a jackpot:

  • Do good work. Create a good product, have great customer service, etc.
  • Listen. What is being said about you is as important, if not more than, what you are saying about you.
  • Care. In social media channels where conversations are more intimate, people can really tell if you are paying lip service or paying attention.
  • Add value. What you bring to the conversations and communities better be relevant, thoughtful, and of real use to the community members (friends, fans, followers).
  • Be real. Authentic, transparent, honest — you know the drill, but are you doing it?
Not a bad set of rules for any work.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dept of "Thank you Capt. Obvious": venting may make anger worse:

Re/ right-wing "hallowed ground" argument against the Ground Zero mosque: the US Constitution is also hallowed, dammit!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Textbook prices are horribly and unfairly inflated: here's Lifehacker's guide to economy. Worth sharing!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Woza Mandela! Woza, Woza!

Johnny Clegg--who went to jail for making biracial music in apartheid South Africa--sings a song for Nelson Mandela:

"It is music and dancing that makes me at peace with the world." --Nelson Mandela

Nkosi sikeleli Afrika

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Read, write, think, play, teach, cook, garden, listen: what privileges!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mike Katz and Bill Whellan. Just...damn!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Dr "glass-half-empty" Coyote

Hate to do it, but when a 16-year-old writes and says "all I really want to do in my life is compose and record music--what are my career options", if you're a responsible respondent, there ain't but about one kind of answer [lightly redacted]:

Sure, I remember you.

The fact of the matter is that there are very, very few full-time jobs to be had playing and composing music for a living. This is why most people who DO make a living in music have one or more parallel streams: arranging, teaching, etc--and many others have full-time non-music jobs.

To be a full-time musician, you have to have (a) absolutely top-notch chops; (b) a good support network (to tide you over between jobs, or in the event of unforeseen problems--medical, financial, etc; (c) a relentless work ethic--12-14 hours per day; (d) a great deal of patience and fortitude, being prepared to put up with the possibility of years of poverty and/or frustration; and (e) a lot of luck. (a) through (d) are do-able--because they are (mostly) under your own control. (e) is a killer, because it is not. I've been a professor for 10 years. Before that I was in graduate school (Master's and a Doctorate) 12 years. Before that I lived on less than $20,000/year for about 6 years. All through those years I had straight jobs to help pay the rent.

I would encourage you by all means to keep writing, keep recording, keep working on your chops. But unless you are prepared to either be a music teacher, and get the necessary formal schooling that certifies you for that, or else to accept a great deal of uncertainty, unpredictability, and (probably) poverty), I would not advise that you try to make a full-time career in music.

Be advised that there are LOTS of very talented musicians who don't work full-time or exclusively in music: I know psychiatrists, doctors, lawyers, carpenters, auto mechanics, etc who are every bit as talented and make music every bit as good as that created by "full-time musicians." You can do the same.

Probably the most valuable things you can do right now are to (a) keep working on your chops; (b) diversify your skills: learn about marketing, computers, graphic design, contract law, copyright law, etc; (c) work with a lot of different collaborating musicians--expand your horizons and your network of contacts; (d) get out there and gig, in as many different types of circumstances as possible. My wife's nephew has had songs he's written pitched to Avril Lavigne--but he's not counting on that to make his fortune. He's also going to college for music education; also plays drums, guitar, and trumpet; also sight-reads like a whip and sings bass; is also an excellent beat-boxer. The competition is fierce and there are thousands upon thousands of excellent musicians out there.

Good luck.

Dr Coyote
Reading back, it's a big bummer, though not intended to be such. Just cain't lie to the young'uns about possible/impossible it might be.

Updated to add: he wrote back:
Thank you for some practical advice, instead of the "don't do it" I'm getting from everyone else. I will look into some other options, as I really don't want to be poor.
Guess it was the right medicine. One doesn't always know.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Splendid: CO gubenatorial candidate thinks bicycles are a "UN Stealth Campaign"-

Hatred & opportunism go down to defeat at Ground Zero

Ground Zero, where the Towers fell on 9/11, is--ought to be treated as--as sacred site: a place where we are all to be reminded of the pointless loss and human suffering that hatred and political opportunism can create. It was thus particularly contemptible when Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin, and a raft of hateful right-wing nutjob political and media hacks, campaigned against the building of a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero: as if no Muslim suffered and died in the Towers that day! What arrogance!

So I was really, really happy to get this note from the J Street folks who are working to create more effective interfaith dialogue [redacted].

The best part?

The embrace.

Dr Coyote --

Yesterday, J Street New York City supporters and I delivered over 10,000 of your signatures in support of the Islamic Center in Lower Manhattan to a critical hearing of New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The response by our community to our call to action on this issue was overwhelming and demonstrated that J Street supporters clearly understand that tolerance and religious freedom are not only essential values, but that sacrificing them weakens us in the fight against extremism.

And I've got great news -- despite the outcry against the project, the Commission voted 9-0 to allow it to proceed.

Yesterday, after the vote, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a stirring defense of the project and religious freedom on Governor's Island with the Statue of Liberty in the background.

Mayor Bloomberg was joined by a group of interfaith leaders as he gave his remarks in front of the Statue of Liberty:

Every local official I spoke with at the hearing truly appreciated our support for the project.

I also had an emotional moment with the Community Center's lead developer -- Sharif El-Gamal -- who couldn't help but give me a hug, even though we'd never met before!

For those of you that stood with us, thank you so much. Our voices are so needed in the national political debate and within the American Jewish community.

If you would like to support J Street financially, allowing us to keep standing up for our values, click here to make a gift.

Until next time,

- Isaac

Isaac Luria
V.P., Communications and New Media
J Street
August 4, 2010

Monday, August 02, 2010

Give thanks and praise: Beryl Marriott

A damned shame. Beryl Marriott was one of the greatest English-style ceilidh-band pianists. She gave Dave Swarbrick his first fiddle gigs, and she ruled on his great solo discs Swarbrick and Smiddyburn.

We owe her a lot.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Great moments from The Wire if any moments from the The Wire weren't great ones, but still:

I love that the smartest police on the whole team, Clark Peters's masterful Lester Freamon, has the most diverse drinking habits: from one show to another he drinks Jameson, Guinness (in the nitrogen bottle, thereby confirming that Lester knows an American pour sucks), and Red Stripe (Jamaica).

The point is that Lester is the best police on the team because he pays attention to details and never loses patience or gives up. If you can't pay attention to your beer you probably can't pay attention to a wiretap either.

Nice touch.

Friday, July 30, 2010

"Music is the weapon of the future" --Fela Kuti

Fela Kuti said that. In this performance, the great Hugh Masekela, who wrote the song for the magnificent stage show Sarafina!, about the children-led protests of the Soweto Riots, proves it.

I was playing this song, with my brother-in-music Dr Jolt, in Bloomington IN, in Jif & the Choosy Mothers, the night that Nelson Mandela walked out of prison, after twenty-seven years.

As Andy Irvine said, "You all have to sing very very loud, because fascists are very very deaf."

Gandhi said: "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win."

And, to paraphrase the great Emma Goldman, we going to be dancing all the way.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Engaged and Integrated Scholar"

Requested responses to university Provost's "Engaged and Integrated Scholars" series feature. Surprising how much more honest you can be when you've got tenure:

1. What is your research objective/interest(s)?

American and African-American Music, 20th Century Music, Irish traditional music and other folk musics and cultures, improvisation, music and politics, performance practice, historical performance.
To do work as a research scholar which enriches historical understanding, empowers communities, and overcomes cultural boundaries.
2. How do you feel your research impacts the globe?
In my research, I am a proponent of Patrick Geddes's dictum to "Think globally, but act locally". I believe scholars should recognize wider impact and responsibility for their work, not only within their own disciplines, but also as part of wider research communities and, indeed, as part of all communities worldwide. Because my own work is especially engaged with the histories of marginalized, colonized, ostracized, and working-class musics, it also engages issues of politics, race, class, and power and I am particularly aware of my responsibilities in these areas.
3. Where do you get your inspiration?
I am inspired by my own teachers and predecessors, within and beyond the field of musicology, who have modeled for me the combination of rigor, curiosity, insight, sensitivity, and work-ethic which I strive to realize in my own work. My own teachers J. Peter Burkholder, Austin Caswell, Thomas J Mathiesen, Thomas Binkley, and Richard Bauman were giant intellects and inspirations. Beyond musicology, I am inspired by the poetics of Gary Snyder and Peter Mathiessen, the spiritual insights of Dainin Katagiri Roshi and Thomas Merton, and the stunning beauty and emotional depth I have found in many different forms of traditional music. As Bob Dylan said, "traditional music will teach you everything you need to know to live. If you let it."
4. What type(s) of service projects do you enjoy doing?
I am acutely aware of the unusual privilege I enjoy as a a white, male, tenured, heterosexual college professor. That privilege--though hard-earned and many years in coming--obligates me to work to help others. I donate my time writing, teaching, playing, and speaking as much as I possibly can. Possibly the most gratifying service projects of all are those in which, through teaching, I am privileged to help people become participants in the creation of their own artistic lives.
5. What projects are you currently working on?
My primary current research project is a large-scale scholarly monograph on the earliest roots of blackface minstrelsy, the early 19th century street idiom which synthesized African-American and Anglo-Celtic styles to create the first great American popular music. I am also heavily involved in expanding the range and visibility of the work done by my own Vernacular Music Center, and the activities of the Celtic Ensemble, a unique ensemble among North American music conservatory programs.
6. What advice do you have for new faculty members on balancing all of the components of an integrated scholar into their careers (academics, research, service)?
Although I would certainly not think of myself as exemplifying effective integration of al these elements--I am acutely aware of my own limitations and inefficiencies--I have found the following dicta to be practical and useful:
  • Cultivate the ability to concentrate closely in short bursts of time. Available time for one's own research is never sufficiently great and it is always prone to interruption; therefore, it is important to be able to muster concentration in shorter bursts.
  • Related to the above: identify those patterns in your calendar and schedule in which your concentration is best and most suited for certain types of activities, and protect those times for your own work. I get up at 4:30AM, six days a week, for this reason.
  • Develop a physical and a spiritual discipline. Do something outdoors and something physical every day. I bicycle, garden, do yoga and martial arts.
  • Invest effort not only in your own work, but also in communicating and collaborating with colleagues, making sure that they know what you are working on. Work a little bit harder and be a little bit friendlier--this pays large dividends.
7. Lastly, please provide us with some background information to help people get to know you. What is your official title, educational background and hometown?
I am Associate Professor of Musicology; I serve as Chair of Musicology, director of the Vernacular Music Center, and director of the Celtic Ensemble. I hold a BA (Music) from the University of Massachusetts, and a Master's in Music (Jazz Studies) and Ph.D. in Musicology, from Indiana University. I was born on the north shore of Massachusetts, in a small town called Marblehead (home of the painting The Spirit of '76), but have lived, worked, and played music in Cambridge MA, Manhattan, Chicago, and New Orleans, as well. My wife Dharmonia (also professor of Musicology at the university) and I lived in southern Indiana for 12 years, and here in Lubbock since 2000, but my heart is still in the foothills and seashores of northern New England.

Learning to really dig it when my own students come up with music/nerd jokes we did back in the day, viz: "International House of Purcell".

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"The collective intelligence of a wine flask"

Marc Ambinder nails the Republican "leadership":

The Republicans want to be mayors of crazy-town. They've embraced a fringe and proto-racist isolationist and ignorant conservative populism that has no solutions for fixing anything and the collective intelligence of a wine flask.
No great surprise there. It's the same thing they did in '56 and after in attempting to shut down the Civil Rights movement. Equally stupid as a long-term policy, but in the short term, it led to lynchings, bombings, and a whole lot of needless suffering.

Probably will this time, too.

The world's greatest newspaper and the greatest-ever TV program: the Guardian UK's episode-by-episode guide to The Wire:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Music is magic

Every kind of awesome. These folks have been married sixty-two years.

All created and uncreated phenomena arise, flourish, and pass away. But love endures.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Jesus, what the FUCK is up with these people?!?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Next to me on regional jet: gray ponytail, earrings, bifocals, Dick (whoremonger) Morris's "Taking Back America" (sic). Another ex-hippie who drank the Tea.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Home. For about 8 hours. Then out again, to O'Flaherty Youth Camp (D/FW)

Friday, July 09, 2010

More evidence that animals are better than humans:

Saturday, July 03, 2010

On the road again: Houston, Amsterdam, Terschelling; keynote: "Afro-Celtic Musical Exchange in the Age of Sail"

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Five worst EVER: Johnson, Buchanan, Harding, Pierce, and GWB. Way to go, Junior: you finally excelled: at WORST.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tom Clancy "Patriot Games": contemptible on every level: exploitative, simplistic, macho, manipulative. Clancy's a fascist; H. Ford a whore.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Boomers! Prayin' for rain!

Only down-side to Germany v. England? That they couldn't BOTH LOSE.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Diggin' the sublime ferocity of Mason Brown & Doug Goodhart, this mawnin':

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How to control an Ulster Scotsman's taste for single-malts: keep 'em sealed--Presbyterian tightfistedness takes care of the rest!

Remembering Ali Akbar Khan, whose last act, on the day he died, was to *teach a lesson*. May I depart with such grace & courage.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Re/ Barton's "apology" to BP: 82% of Texans think Barton was wrong & President right; these are OUR beaches:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

On-the-ground wisdom re/ Mullah McChrystal from a remarkable and courageous Afghan blogger:

Little pub in a storefront or mill building somewhere in the Berkshire hills, patch of ground w/ trees, time to write... Someday, I promise.

Animals are our brothers. We should protect them--not kill them:

Re/ McChrystal:

From the Uniform Code of Military Justice:

"Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."

90,000 singing "Nkosi sikelele Afrika" at the Big Calabash and I am weeping.

After melodrama of past few days, it's not JUST chauvinism that makes me hope S Africa kicks the merde out of France today. WOZA! Woza woza!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Oh, and BP, who've trotted out a professorial black guy in ads for all you're doing to "make things right"? Just go die, OK?

Diggin' World Cup no end, learning a lot, but (no revelation here) the absurd histrionic flops are wussy in the extreme.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Moved inexpressibly at receiving Father's Day greetings from non-biological young'uns & thinking of Greg Brown:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Aphorism: the "job" of a teacher, ultimately, is facilitate others in becoming more fully themselves. Hence not a job; more like a privilege.

Reality TV: further evidence that "core American values" are sloth, voyeurism, and stupidity.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I am content.

In the High Hills w/ Dharmonia & good friendS

Monday, June 07, 2010

Zoukfest Day 01: early PM

Trying a slightly different approach this year w/ ZF blog: instead of a long, semi-carefully-composed tome assembled in the early morning, commenting retrospectively on the events of the day before, am going to trying spot-reporting (sorta expanded Twitter feed).

Nice orientation last night--chance to see old friends, some of whom haven't been back to ZF for a number of years. Interesting classes offered--new staff (Will Harmon, Blayne Chastain, Martin Hayes) bringing great new vibe to the mix. Doug Goodhart holds forth, playing agogo, on rhythm as comprising "the figure and the ground", Moira Smiley leads the room through a call-and-response world tour of global vocal styles, Luke Plumb lays it down on mandolin.

Then adjourn to one of the two session pubs for which Zoukfest has engineered a welcome: the Two Fools Tavern, good friends to the music for a long time now, and a local pizza joint. I've said before that, for any regional/local grass-roots arts initiative to flourish, it needs spaces: music houses or pubs in which management understands that the intangible benefits music in their rooms provides are nevertheless quite concrete.

Good food at the Two Fools, management comps the drinks for the players, and before long we're around a long table with Messers Harmon, Hayes, Plumb, and company. Nice evening of Clare-and-other tunes ensues, with one of the nicest aspects of the right kind of festival sessions: the sense that these are old and new friends having a conversation, renewing (or forging) acquaintance, getting to know one another better--and that the music is only a part of the process. The music is better precisely because it is serving this larger purpose. Pleasant evening, we hated to leave, but it's only Sunday--and Monday morning of a festival week is entirely too soon to start out sleep-deprived (we'll save that for Thursday or Friday, when we'll run on caffeine and adrenaline).

Morning classes done: great (small) group in the "Playing for the Sets", but with a good parity of goals & vision; all seem to have "signed on" for the idea of learning to play the tunes better for dancing. A lot of musicians--especially American musicians--learn to play the Irish dance tunes in all kinds of circumstances, and a lot of them--again, especially the Americans--could stand to have more time at actually playing the music for dancing. So the "Playing for the Sets" class is about how to play the music for dancing. In acknowledgment of Mr Hayes's presence and the impact of his family's Tulla Ceili Band upon set-dancing, we're focusing on their sets, and the tunes they played for the Clare Plain and the Clare Lancers, probably the two most widely-played and widely-danced sets. Will probably also pull in the Sliabh Luachra set, just to get some polkas & slides in with the preponderance of Clare reels, and maybe the final figure of the Caledonian, for hornpipes.

Then a great inaugural meeting of Stanley Greenthal's "Feist Breizh" class on Breton music, which both Maestro Doug Goodhart and Dr Coyote are auditing. No doubt each of us could learn these tunes on our own, but when you have free access to somebody with as much knowledge and musicianship in the world of Breton dance tunes as Stanley, you take advantage! And, just speaking for myself, it's a huge, welcome luxury--kinda like going to a spa, only for musicians instead of rich folks--to have somebody else teach you the tunes, when you are usually at the teaching, rather than receiving, end of the experience. Beautiful set of an-dros in a great bouzouki arrangement from Stanley.

Then lunch at the UNM cafeteria, which is a pleasant, well-appointed place with good food, but which we just happen to hit right at the same time as the literal, physical waves of schoolkids who are doing their pre-college summer experiences and elbowing their way past us. Once through that, a pleasant lunch with Will Harmon and Dharmonia, before we head back to the air-conditioned comfort of the SUB to practice, prepare, and generally crank-up for the afternoon's classes: another audit of Professor Doug Goodhart's West Virginia long-bow fiddle class (Dr Coyote will never be a fiddle player, but as a clawhammer banjoist, it's pretty useful to know what the fiddlers want to hear), and then "Playin' in the Band", the Doc's new offering on ensemble approaches to arranging and presentation.

Goin' good so far! Thanks, ZF Board, for making it all happen!

ZF Day 01: Morning

Feels like it oughta be the opening, courier/bullets screen overlay of a Bourne Trilogy flick. But we're here, on the top floor of the UNM Albuquerque Student Union: hard to get to--hafta park and then walk, schlepping stuff, across acres of asphalt parking lot, past the hundreds of school-kids starting first day of pre-college summer experiences--but a very pleasant environment: top floor, nice big open atrium with skylights and lots of natural light, which makes the luthiers displaying (Herb Taylor and GD Armstrong, both old friends of Zoukfest) very happy, comfortable chairs & lots of space for hanging out between classes, even a top-floor terrace. Lisa Wright & Lauren Flanagan powering-up the registration desk which'll be ZF's nerve-center, staff stumbling in seeking coffee, luthiers schlepping dozens of cases and assembling their displays (trust a luthier to have an ingeniously-designed and beautifully-finished display rack).

Class session I (0900-1015) looms. We're glad to be here!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

From the belly of the mercantile beast (South Plains Mall)--I love *not* buying shit.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Enough with the goddamned ash-cloud!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Buddha taught that, having taken the Bodhisattva vow, we are all exiles. A good lesson, perpetually re-learned.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Limerick: 5 recitals yesterday, 6 today, 6 tomorrow, meetings Thursday. Gonna wind up with both ears in one socket!!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Gone beyond

My mother died in March. At the time, the exigencies of dealing with her deterioration (48 hour trip to New England, return to Lubbock, only to have her decease 2 days later), the memorial service and accompanying family complexities, a hellacious semester with multiple personnel and budgetary melt-downs, and my own crisis-moment tendency to go into emergency-coping mode, meant that I didn't do much conscious mourning.

I was moved by the open sorrow expressed by my siblings, especially by my brothers--two remarkable, admirable men--and their spouses, which quartet had been primarily responsible for her care in the wake of my step-father's death last summer, and her subsequent and very swift descent into Alzheimer's. I could weep for them, and their sorrow--but not so much for her.

But, as I said to another friend at the time, "my relationship with my mother was sort of classically fucked-up", and it was--mostly due to the absolutely horrific legacy of family dysfunction to which both my parents were subjected as children. My mother was too unhappy, too damaged, to be an especially effective parent, despite the fact that she manifestly loved her kids. And she fucked me over, over and over again, in the area of my vocation to music. There are reasons I was in therapy for 12 years, and she--and the legacy of my monstrous grandmother--were two major ones.

Here's my own brief articulation, from eight years ago:

These Wooded Hills

These wooded hills and rocky shores
are the
memory of my childhood;

whipped by salt Atlantic waves,
traced by crumbling dry stone walls;
marked by cowshit and the cry of gulls,

gouged by retreating glaciers of a last Ice Age;
and the faint whispering voices
of old wars, old words, old violence, old victories.

Granite, oak, slate, and pine;
topsoil's topography ripped away,

leaving the bones.
So I was pretty damned grateful when Dharmonia wrote this, which expressed pure, open, Bodhisattva mourning for Bobby Smith Thomas in a way couldn't. And then I could weep for her:
While driving to a funeral

Bobby is gone, gone, gone beyond
Gate gate paragate
Parasamgate bodhi svaha

Her son at the wheel driving east
Rain is lashing at the windshield,
spraying up from the passing trucks
and while thinking of how we pass
from life into death, around us
life continues its circus
in the sheeting rain, driving wind
Massachusetts bumper stickers:
Obama is still President,
My Other Car is still a Broom,
Jesus Saves and the Yankees still suck
This my home state, and now, and now
One last journey to the North Shore
At least for reasons tied to blood
And bone, and the love of this man
And the others who share that blood

And how strangely appropriate
The blinding rain and shrieking wind
To sagas stories and plot lines
To complicated webs of past,
To layers of pride and of doubt
To all the love and the anger
Kneaded into the famous bread
And those who came to adulthood
In the eye of this hurricane
Each making their own peace with her
She was not my mother, and yes
I saw the complicated side
But I loved her for bringing him
Into the world in the first place,
And for what she wanted to be,
And for the things she tried to be,
And was, when clarity could cut
Through what had been handed to her.
A friend of mine once said to me
“One can be a difficult parent
And still be a great friend,” and
She was that to me, and it is
A terrible thing to witness
A heart beating in the shambles
That Alzheimer’s leaves in its wake--
So you will understand, when I
Saw the ashes mixed with earth, why
I spoke the mantra “gone beyond”

Gate gate paragate
Parasamgate bodhi svaha

the doorless doors of the Pure Land
do not require us to bring
All of our Stuff along with us
No eyes no ears no nose no mouth
No junk no faults no garbage, but
Just the cloudless blue sky of mind.
I am grateful that I have such loving people in my life. I need them.


Nostalgic in all the wrong ways: blowout-preventer edition

The Deepwater Horizon spill--probably the most catastrophic environmental disaster of the past 50 years, excepting possibly Chernobyl--was apparently caused by failure of one of these:

This is a blowout-preventer, a massive hydraulic-powered valve used for sealing an oil well and regulating the flow. They are

When I read, two days ago, that the spill was caused by one of these failing, a mile down, I was chilled. I used to repair these, for Cactus Drilling Company in Midland, TX, in 1979-80.

A blowout-preventer is subjected to huge pressures, as well as to highly corrosive acids, salts, and other outflow from a well. It doesn't come up as only crude: there are all kinds of other substances in such a flow. So the blowout-preventer can only be used for a relatively short period of time, before the well has to be temporarily shut down and the preventer replaced.

They used to come into the repair yard where I worked, with the huge rubber gaskets in rags and most of the heavy-duty lead-based sealing paint corroded off (for scale's sake, the BOP pictured above is a "small", and is substantially taller than a man). We'd sand- and water-blast them, paint them with an acid-based paint-remover (which you had to keep off your skin, as it would burn you), break-loose the giant bolts that seal them: bolts as big as my arm, often rusted solid--I still have a big dent on my right shin from where a 12-foot "cheater pipe"--additional lever arm--shattered while we were trying to open a bolt.

Then we'd take them completely apart, wash all the components in an acid bath and discard any that seemed unrepairable, replace the parts and gaskets, re-paint 'em, and stick them on a hydraulic test-bed, where we'd crank up to a pressure as high as 1 ton per square inch (we were supposed to stand outside the steel-reinforced room as we did this, but often didn't). Then, when we'd confirmed that the repairs were complete and safety-secure, we'd call the truckers and they'd come pick up the BOP, to store in the yard until re-used.

When I read, two days ago, that the spill had been caused by a BOP failure, Dharmonia said "yeah, I read that a while ago but I didn't want to tell you"--which was smart, because when I saw it, I nearly fainted.

I would not want to be one of the crew who might have sent that particular piece back out to the platform.

Eleven guys died. BP and Halliburton (Dick Cheney's butt-buddies--the same people who betrayed American soldiers in the Iraq theatre on a daily basis) may well have killed the Gulf Coast--permanently.

Some corporate crime ought to carry capital penalties.

Checkin AM @ NYC for long day til evening SNN flight. Thank Universe for cheap Prez club booze & wireless!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

You miserable racist fucks--GET OUT OF MY HOME TOWN!

NY weekly shows Obamas as 'Sanford and Son' actors

A weekly newspaper photo depicting President Barack Obama and his wife as characters from the TV sitcom "Sanford and Son" was intended as political satire and not a racist commentary, the publisher said Wednesday.

Phillip Sciarello, publisher and part owner of the Smithtown Messenger on New York's Long Island, defended the decision to publish the photo, but added the newspaper would run a retraction in its next edition for anyone who might have been offended.
Phillip Sciarello, you dirty little cowardly punk, my direct patrilineal ancestor founded this town. My great-great-great-great-etc grandfather was an illegal immigrant, a miscegenator, a political radical, and a warrior, and his offspring fathered children with black mothers and, eventually, granted them all their freedom.

And he would have chewed you up and spit you out like the worthless little piece of trash you are. Claudius Smith, the "Terror of the Ramapo," wouldn't have bothered to hang you in your chimney--a waste of good rope--but he would have horsewhipped your gutless little ass on Main Street. I'm only sorry that I'm 2,000 miles away.

Get your racist garbage, and your racist garbage self, out of my town.

Missing my CE guys, a bit. Even missing the 9pm Wed sectional. Gettin' soft in my old age, I reckon.

Spring 2010 Ireland seminar Google map/intinerary: join the band!

IAH en route to NYC & SNN.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

My hero, Gary Snyder

I hope, when the time comes for me to die, that I will have lived a life this valuable:


Malcolm/Jean-Paul: "By any means necessary."

Monday, May 03, 2010

BB Tour (with replaceable SIMS card--Ireland hooray!) is pretty awesome; thanks, @glenrhunt!

New BBerry Tour: reminded of Fam Guy episode: Old Guy says of lightbulb: "when I saw this at 1927 World Expo, I almost crapped my pants!"

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Charlie Ives's band

Further to the General's comment, below--it must've sounded something like this:

I R a music major

Dear God, this is painfully accurate:

h/t to the Sarge.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

re/ petition to REMOVE the "Tornado of Ideas" sculpture because it includes non-conservative books, news-flash: CENSORSHIP IS COWARDICE.

Solidarity forever! The people united will never be defeated! One Big Union!

Friday, April 30, 2010

If there is anything at all to love about England, this song captures it:

Just back from trumpet recital. Last solo ended, they blew sigh of relief; thought of Katagiri "practice--make effort".

Watchin' FZ w/ 88 band, thinking of Muddy, Monroe, Miles, Messengers, Ellington bands, wishing C Ives had one too.

Friday, April 23, 2010

AZ joins the Third Reich

Presumably yellow (or maybe "brown") stars are not far behind:

Dear Governor Brewer:

I am shocked and appalled that you should have signed into law SB1070. The potential for egregious, arbitrary, inconsistent halt-and-questioning of people on the street violates the spirit of the protection against unjustifiable search and seizure. More to the point, the law itself, its intentions, its likely execution, and your own official ratification of it, are deeply, deeply un-American. I will never spend another dime on or in Arizona, I will urge all friends, relations, colleagues, and business associates to likewise boycott the state, and I will actively seek to bring about your defeat in the next election, unless and until this law if repealed.

You should be ashamed of this action. Please act to rescind.


Dr Coyote

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Growin' 'em meself

Boomer-aged Bay Area English Country Dance teacher, to Dr Coyote, after I walked into the Dallas traditional dance group's Country Dance weekend with 14 young'uns in tow, all of whom could sing, dance, play, and focus like demons:

Where on earth did you get these great kids, you wonderful man?!?
Dr Coyote:
Aw, hell...I just grow 'em in cold frames.

Damned proud of my guys.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

If you lie down in a dunghill...'re going to smell like crap:

I am shocked and appalled that ZeroWater would advertise on the Fox News program of Glenn Beck. Mr Beck, a cynical opportunist, preaches hatred, practices misinformation, and works actively to erode democracy and free speech. Any association with Mr Beck tars ZeroWater with these same crimes. Please remove any advertising or other sponsorship between ZeroWater and Mr Beck at your earliest convenience.

Until such time as you do, I will actively advise friends, relations, and colleagues to avoid any ZeroWater products.


Dr Coyote

Death, taxes, greed, suffering, and legislative stupidity: samsara will always be with us.

Instead of blogging...

...I'm doing shit like this.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Never fails: paper due-date of Mon, Wed, Fri--and undergrads will STILL stay up all night and come into class late on the deadline day.

Weeping. Last concert with this (wonderful) band. I love my guys, and I am beyond-proud of them. Gassho.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

From "Towncraft": "fuck it. We could build our own thing *here*."

Azerrad's book "Our Band Could Be Your Life" ( and the documentary "Towncraft," on Little Rock's self-made punk scene (Hulu), give the lie to anybody who says "it'll never happen here."

Friday, April 16, 2010

You'd think I'd know this, after 10 years: Big Lebowski wallpaper over PPT projector instantly destroys undergrad concentration.

Most profoundly valuable teaching from the Dharma: that even temporary alleviation of suffering matters.

Most profoundly difficult teaching from the Dharma: that suffering cannot be permanently eradicated.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

LBK "Tea Party" (trans: frightened white people who'd rather yell than learn) rained out: way to stick w/ your revolution, folks:

The greatest television ever made

All praise to The Sopranos, Northern Exposure, Homicide: Life on the Streets, The Corner, Six Feet Under, etc, etc,

but this is what demonstrates what that incredible idiom can accomplish:

Featurin' The Wire on NPR--which HBO TV show has told more truth and conveyed more real news than NPR themselves have in recent years.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe: "Oh didn't it RAIN, rain, rain, children, didn't it RAIN."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Working with stone professionals ( is a pure joy. Thanks Kate & Jason!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Watchin' Patty & the Boss school U2 in "Because the Night" at RHOF 25th & remembering PSG at CBGB, that cold winter of '77. STILL STANDING!

Hey, whyn'cha check out THIS link?

Trying to control my nausea as I pitch for public radio (a "good thing") while Glenn Beck (a "bad thing") plays on muted TV in background.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Re/ students: am reminded that they're ALL "good kids". Not "good" vs "bad"--rather "happy" vs unhappy".

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Don't bother me with facts, my mind's made up!

As someone who grew up in a place where Dr Franklin's sectioned-snake flag is actually history rather than cheap political bullshit-where people died to try to create independence from what they perceived to be tyranny--I am profoundly offended by the gutless, ignorant drones, many of them on one form or other of government paycheck, whose selfishness and cowardice leads them to scream bloody murder only when they think that "someone else" (typically someone who works harder, owns less, came from elsewhere, and has six times as much guts and work-ethic as they) is getting something that they're not.

This cartoon captures it.

Just rescued a moth the size & beauty of Gandalf's rescuer ( from inside J&B windows. Better mean good karma!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Another "terrorist fist-jab"

On Jun 8 2008, in the wake of Michelle & Barack Obama's celebration of his nomination as Democratic candidate for the Presidency, the vapid Fox "News" talking-head bimbo E. D. Hill notoriously referred to that celebration as a "terrorist fist jab". The hysterical absurdity of the accusation--and the lily-white racist subtones which underlay it--reveals the hysterical terror which Fox seeks to inculcate in its low-information, mostly elderly, mostly ignorant listeners.

Well, guess what, E. D. Hill?

He's the President now. And the people in the US armed forces, the people who actually put their bodies in harm's way, for your safety, you gutless talking-head bimbo, those people know he is their President.

You Tea-bagging imbeciles? Get used to it. It's a new age.

And about damned time.

I find meself disinclined to accede to your request.

Means "No."

Friday, April 09, 2010

'Tis the season

...when the panic is upon us and the academic dishonesty spikes. Comment on student paper:

Extensive paraphrase from Wikipedia. You were informed in class that Wikipedia is not a permissible source. Moreover, with this extensive paraphrase, and some literal and uncredited block-and-paste, you are dangerously close to plagiarism. Re-write COMPLETELY and resubmit for consideration of passing grade.
Dr Coyote

Not here. Not now. Never again.

Billings, Montana stands up. "Not in our town."

You hear that, Randy Neugebauer, you cowardly incompetent mob-mentality sheep-brained phony? As the General put it: "only a coward and bully yells anonymous insults from the midst of a mob of his friends."

Try it again, Randy. Try it in person. Say it to our faces, and see how far it gets you.

Not here. Not now. Not any more. Never again.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

And even more importantly, VH at RC? *I* know who you are--and how unprofessional is your conduct.

Outrageous: letter of rejection sent to one of my PhD's applying for job: "Thank you for your application... By this time you certainly realize that it was not successful.”. Naming no names, but, VH at RC? You know who you are. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

re/ iPad: If I'm blowing $500-600 on technology, it better be a tool.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Changing the channel on Sarah Palin

Palin's Fox Channel program tanks, even on a network only preferred by terrified, delusional, ignorant fools who want to be lied to.

The money quote?

At least 1 out of every 5 viewers who started out watching the show changed the channel or turned off the set.
Kinda explains the 2008 Palin/McCain campaign in a nutshell. Americans actually don't like greedy, lying, bigoted, murderous, phony yahoos.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

"To conquer them with love, stand up now, stand up now..."

Gunn High School (Bay Area) gets word of the arrival of the Westboro Baptist Church (psychotic Baptist anti-gay hate group) cowboys up, sets up a Facebook group, surrounds them with love, and forces them to surrender.

You noble Diggers all, stand up now, stand up now.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Through the looking glass

How bad is my schedule that I now look forward to plane flights and classroom lectures as brief windows of comparative relaxation?!?

Sunday, March 21, 2010


"Waterloo," Jim DeMint, you psychotic asshole?

Yeah, it is, you fucks.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Jiggity-jig, one more once

Slowly digging out here. For a Spring "Break", there sure has been a hell of a lot of eventuality in the past 7 days. Got back from a family affair on Wednesday, leaving for Dallas with a van-load of students today. Where exactly was the "week off", again?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Aw, c'mon, we're not all named Paddy, y'know..."

Beannachtai la feile Padraig, ya feckin' eedjits!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Sometimes sorrow can crack open the heart, so that healing pours in.

That's what I saw today. I hope.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Beyond burnout, but worth it

Battlefield Band rocked the house. Not only fantastic virtuosos, with an incredible, high-energy, and off-the-cuff hilarious stage show, but also easy-going, friendly gentlemen--the antithesis of prima donnas. I'll have a post for another day on the things that having been road musician in your own past tell you the visiting road musicians might want, or not want, to deal with--and how that helps improve the hospitality you can figure out to offer.

Gig dropped at 8pm, they played the last note--joined by the TTU Set-Dancers and your numble narrator--at around 10:30pm. Sold over 100 CDs, which was fantastic news in terms of the bottom line, but deferred escaping the building.

Back to our crib 11:30pm, for an after-party that stretched toward 3am. Fantastic crack with the lads, introduction and re-introductions that crossed decades between meetings (nice to see The General and Alan Reid get re-acquainted, after a good 25 years). Around 3:15am, boot 'em out the door, so we can spend an hour cleaning so Taiyo doesn't have to do it, and then leave for the airport around 4am, to check in for the 5:15 crack o' dawn flight.

Connections in Houston and Chi, arrive Hartford to be met by Dharmonia's mom. Quick trip up the Mass Pike, and now crashing big-time.

Helluva lot of events in precisely the past 24 hours.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Aw haw hey!

Battlefield Band in the LBK hizzouse.


Sunday, March 07, 2010

digital gratitude

I absolutely flippin love And my feelings for code-slinging computer-superstar student assistants ain't far behind. Thank you Glen Hunt!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Still standing

Enduring some losses, but still here, and grateful for beloved friends and students.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Van Jones goes after Glenn Beck, Beck pees himself with fear...

Incredible speech from Jones, who Beck character-assassinated right out of the White House "Green Jobs Initiative" post:

Jones instead had kind words for the Fox News host:

Last thing I want to say is this: To my fellow countryman, Mr. Glenn Beck. I see you, and I love you, brother. I love you, and you cannot do anything about it. I love you, and you cannot do anything about it. Let’s be one country! Let’s be one country! Let’s get the job done!

Beck won't be able to handle it--any more than a cockroach running from the light--but Jones has hit on the best possible way to hit back at the toxic opportunists and psychotic fanatics of the modern "conservative" movement. Or, to quote Gerrald Winstanley:
To conquer them with love, Stand up now, stand up now,
To conquer them with love, Stand up now
To conquer them with love, As it does you behoove
For He is King above, No power is like to love
Stand up now.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Quick hit: retraining after the coffee break

Just back from the Delta blues gig: once a week (Thurs nights) in a coffeeshop where the clientele can, on any given night, be overladen with too many posing (and loud!) high school students, oblivious to those few others who might've actually come out to hear the music. But on other nights it can be OK, if the ambient noise level is reasonably low and my hands are working reasonably well. Not the best night tonight, playing-wise, but not the worst either.

This next picks up from a comment over on the ProfHacker blog (where a Dr Coyote article on teaching to large classrooms will appear in the next couple of weeks), where the PH crew asked for suggestions about "15 minute activities that improve the next day's efficiency."

Was working earlier today with teaching assistants on the materials for the Friday discussion sections, the balance to the Monday/Wednesday lectures when, on Fridays, the TA's take over in order to create a different interactional dynamic. The kiddos need the contrast--because having to deal with Dr Coyote two days a week is quite sufficiently intense--and they need to take responsibility for their own interactions with one another.

Down-side, of course, is when/if certain little criminals decide that the Friday meetings are somehow "less important" or "not real classes", it means a week away before the next Wednesday when I can bring the hammer down upon them. And, even when they're not criminal, it can be damned difficult for them to hold onto the continuity from Wednesday to Wednesday, if the Friday content is chunked-out separately or unrelatedly. So we try to have Friday group tasks & chores pick up from Wednesday lecture, and feed-into shared activities on the Monday morning--it makes for much better continuity.

I also work on continuity from one class meeting directly to the next. Immediately after every meeting of a class, including the MWF 50-minute sessions with the undergrads and the TR 80-minutes with the grads, I send a Blackboard email "further to meeting of XX-XX-XXXX [date]", in which I reiterate the meeting's topic, point to new resources relevant to the day's discussion (at the same time, I am converting and uploading the day's Flash slideshow--I teach music history so audio and video embeds are important for student review), cite next due dates, and so on. I find it keeps the continuity from the end of one class session through to the beginning of the next--in musician terms, this would be "connecting the energy at the end of one phrase to the beginning of the next"--as well as providing a concrete, succinct, cogent summary, meeting-by-meeting, of that course's progress through the semester.

It's a little more than 15 minutes, and it happens after each class meeting rather than once a day, but it certainly seems to help both students and professor with continuity.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wisdom is wisdom, the Dharma is the Dharma...

...whatever the forum.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, spiritual (and quasi-political) leader of the Tibetan people in exile after the Chinese invasion of 1950-51 (and captured most harrowingly in Martin Scorsese's mournful Kundun) has a remarkable ability to take the most banal questions in the most asinine, dumbed-down situations with the most predictable answers and turn them sufficiently on their head that he can elicit insight, even from Larry King.

Case in point:

King asks: "the American people want both trade with China and independence for Tibet; how can they resolve this contradiction?"

HHDL: "... Tibet does not want independence from China! We are a landlocked technologically backward country; we need China's help. No, we want autonomy and the preservation of Tibetan culture--but NOT independence."
Talk about redirecting energy from tired paths to those with new possibilities!

I am privileged beyond measure to have had the opportunity to take refuge vows with the man himself. The Vows are the vows, and the Dharma is the Dharma, no matter where, from or with whom.

But it damned sure is easier, as a fallible human, to stick to the Middle Path with a leader like that as inspiration and role-model.