Monday, December 31, 2007

A Blacklight First Night Event

If you are going to Akron's First Night celebration, be sure to stop by the Summit Art Space to check out artist Mark Soppeland's participatory exhibit, "Land of the Midnight Sun," a black light art extravaganza.

It features a variety of original art work, vintage items from the Day-glo paint era, and collections of submissions from a variety of cultural groups, from school children to mail-in post card entries. Especially fine is a black light needlework entry -- must be seen to be believed.

Best of all, you can attend tonight's showing and create your own black art work to hang up as part of the exhibit. Materials are provided. The exhibit is on display for one night only and you must have a First Night Button to gain entrance to the event.

The Summit Art Space is located at 140 East Market St, although the main entrance is on Summit. You can still pick up Akron First Night Buttons at your local Acme or library branch.

Happy New Year to all my friends in Akron and beyond! Here's to Better Things in 2008!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Take a ride on Devil Gate Drive

The Accidental Akronite tossed in a Suzi Quatro reference in a recent post, and that sent me scurrying for my collection (vinyl) of Suzi recordings. And then the slowly dawning realization, that by golly -- there's bound to be Suzi on YouTube. Sure enough -- here's an early video from the 70s. Suzie rocked then and continues to do so. You can catch up with her career here. Every woman rocker owes her big time. I never got to see her perform, but I did have a ticket to see Fanny. They were coming to Akron, but the band broke up on the road.


Friday, December 28, 2007

VegiTerranean serves lunch

As announced earlier, VegiTerranean is now open for lunch during the week. My good friend and Kinks-buddy Tony from San Diego was in town this week, so we headed over to try out the lunch menu.

We both ordered burgers, and boy they were good! Makes the thought of heating and eating a Bocca Burger kind of not so appealing.

I haven't eaten meat since 1971, but I can remember how eating actual ground meat often times meant chewing on a piece of gristle, and then there was all that animal fat laden with the accumulated toxins from pesticides on the grain the animal was fed to hormone shots and various antibiotics. These things tend to accumulate in the fatty tissues. I'm very glad I haven't been consuming them for over 30 years. Which is not to say I haven't picked up a lot of pesticidal residue on various plant matter, but not nearly as much as regular meat eaters. Here is a list of the ten top toxic fruits and vegetables to avoid -- always look for the organic versions.

Our burgers arrived on whole wheat buns with a very generous side of salad. Along with our burgers, we shared a plate of fries made with a sprinkle of rosemary and homemade fresh tomato ketchup on the side

It feels so civilized -- to have a vegan restaurant in Akron! I'm not the only one with that opinion, I'm sure. The place was packed, and it was 1 PM on a Thursday afternoon. All ages from kids to grandparents and everything in between. We had called in reservations, but the answer machine had gone on overload. Fortunately, we found a place at the bar with a great view of the Y-Bridge and the valley beneath it.

Plans for the new year include a bakery and coffee bar.

Here's a sneak peak of what to expect. The coffee bar area is almost ready to go. The baked good prices look very reasonable. On display in the cases are vegan deserts that are available on the restaurant menu. They look just as sinful as anything you'd find made with eggs and dairy products!

The ambiance is definitely inviting! Tony and I spent a delightful hour and more at the bar, lunching and enjoying a holiday drink, and chatting about the possible Kinks reunion. Would they tour or only do a one or two off reunion concert like Led Zeppelin just did? No matter, we made a pact to get tickets and get to the concert site, no matter which side of the Atlantic!

The restaurant is located at 21 Furnace St on the ground floor of the new Northside Lofts. That's the building at the foot of Luigi's off of old Howard Street. Phone for reservations: 330-374-5550. It's the perfect place to take your out-of-town friends
and impress the heck out of them!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto

It is a horrifying job position -- leader of the opposition, the People's Party of Pakistan. Benazir must have known how dangerous it would be to re-enter this world of warring factions, where modern concepts of democracy battle ancient patriarchal religious behavior. Benazir's party was US-backed, which no doubt added to the risk she was taking by returning to her native land. But she also represented something else, a more secular strain of philosophy that grew within the educated Pakistani class during the era of British influence/interference.

I am very taken by her photographs, now sadly on display everywhere. Benazir radiated everything that most Muslim women are not allowed to be. She had education, power and position. By all accounts, she was not so perfect, and like just about every world leader, elected or otherwise in power, she used her position to get ahead personally. Or she allowed her husband to benefit, which is just as bad as doing it for herself. However, she wasn't entirely focused on self-benefit, unlike the ruling Republican regime we've been under for the last 7 years. She cared about her country and her people, but obviously did not have what it takes to quell the flames of ancient hatreds. Does anybody in that part of the planet?

Now that she is dead, what chaos will leap into the vacuum? I shudder in fear for the people of Pakistan and especially for the women who must live there.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

More Thoughts on the Kinks Reunion

Well now that I've taken some time to recover from the shock of finding Kinks reunion headlines in my news reader, I can refer you to the original Mirror report here. We see that a retrospective box set is due to be released next year, which would certainly help motivate a tour.

I also took the opportunity to open up the pages of Doug Hinman's amazing reference work, The Kinks - All Day and All of the Night, which is a day by day time line of all Kinks concerts, recordings and other events. (Read Dave Emlen's review here.) I could go through this book and find every concert I ever attended, starting on Tuesday, April 15th, 1975 at the Akron Civic Theatre at 8 PM. The Soap Opera tour and ending with the band's last appearance on stage, Saturday Sept 2, 1995 at Memorial Stadium Cleveland Oh for the Rock and Hall of Fame concert.

That's twenty years of Kinks concert-going, followed by another decade plus of Ray and Dave solo-show attending, and I'm only sorry I wasn't following them in the first decade of their careers, but hey -- better late than never.

As to this reunion, I'm sure that most Kinks fans will be telling ourselves, "we'll believe it when we see it." When it comes to the brothers Davies, you just don't know until you've turned in your ticket and you are sitting in your seat, and even then tempers can flare and curtain calls can be cut short.

The latter memory prompted me to look up the concert I attended at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC on Tuesday, May 3rd, 1977, in which Dave and Mick had a spat on stage and walked off in the middle of the encore, "Juke Box Music," leaving Ray all alone on stage to apologize and back off as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, Dough Hinman's book is out of print, but you can find it at various used book emporiums using the trusty Google search option.

As for the Kinks reunion, I wish them good health in the new year. May they go back into the studio and find their creative groove together again. As for me, I'll be waiting with itching fingers, for the day and exact hour tickets go on sale.

Breaking Kinks News!

I wasn't going to blog until January, but I found this UPI story today and hope to heck it is true!

The Kinks set for reunion
December 26, 2007 12:43 PM EST

LONDON, Dec 26, 2007 (UPI via COMTEX) -- The Kinks are planning to reunite next year, marking the first time the original members of the British rock band will play together in nearly four decades.

Lead singer and guitarist Ray Davies said the founding members of the band -- which included Davies' brother Dave on guitar, Mick Avory on drums and Pete Quaife on bass -- plan to reunite in 2008, the Mirror reported.

While Quaife quit the band in 1969 and Avory departed in 1984, the Davies brothers continued to perform as The Kinks with various replacement musicians until 1996.

Dave Davies suffered a stroke in 2004.

"I spoke to Quaife about a month ago and he dearly wants to make another record with me. I think Dave's getting better and Mick's still playing. It would be great to get back together just to see what musical ideas we had and what would happen," Ray Davies told Record Collector. "You miss the interactive stuff. You get it to a degree with other musicians but probably not with the same passion."

Reunions by rock bands such as The Police, Genesis, Van Halen and Led Zeppelin were huge successes in 2007, Variety.com said Wednesday.

URL: www.upi.com

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidaze to All

Here's my favorite Xmas song of all time:



See you all in January 2008!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Search the Village Green

Just like Ohio Dave, I also look at the search terms that lead people to this Village Green. Because so many people search for "huskador retriever," I'm leading off with a portrait of Obie in the snow, with his one brown eye and wild white eye focused on one thing -- coming back inside where it is warm! This portrait is from last season's snow.

People from around the world come here to find out about Working Man's Cafe, and that makes me happy! I'm glad to pass along what I learn via Neil's Kinks Preservation Society Digest. Just this past week, the Digest reached issue 3,000 and fans from around the world secretly assembled a web tribute to Neil Ottenstein, founder and list manager for 18 years. Go here for an overview of the list and it's significance for Kinks fans. You will also find information on joining the ultimate Kinks fan email group. And you can click here to find my own tribute to Neil's list.

The oddest recent search phrase might be "how to make a straw bed for a mute swan" which when Googled, sends folks here. They really should have looked at this page instead of sticking around the Green for almost 9 minutes. However, I love it when visitors actually take the time to look around this little blog.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Night Kick Back -- the Kinks

Here's one of my favorites, both the song and the video. "Do It Again" never fails to get me up on my feet dancing around and gearing up to do what ever it is that needs getting done.

I love how the subway journey transforms from present to a subway bomb shelter in WWII and then on to a seaside entertainment, complete with Ray on drums as Punch and Dave an electrifying Harlequin in full motley.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Updates and breaking news

CBS pulled Leah's CSI: NYC episode that was scheduled to air tonight and replaced it with a rerun. I'm assuming the schedule is changing as the strike goes on longer and longer. Maybe they want to save a new episode for January. I will try to track down when it is set to air.
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Longest running comment thread at the Village Green can be found here. A new question tonight: which is the best choice, eating a soyburger trucked in from the west coast or dining on locally grown free-range animal flesh?

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I've looked around town, but haven't seen any blogger comments other than Eric Manfield's on the Marco Sommerville smackdown of police chief Matulavich. The mayor evidently is not out there defending his chief in any meaningful way. What is going on here in Akron? Looks like a lot of macho posturing to me.

Marco claims the chief is not doing a good job, the implication -- I bet -- going back to the cops initially reporting they were the shooters in the Vinson case, whereas it turned out that the teenager shot himself before the police released their triggers.

Think before you act is wise advice, but Marco Sommerville only recently forgot to take his firearm out of his luggage and got caught by security at the airport and got busted for it. So why is the newly re-elected council president now gunning for the police chief and accusing him of errors in judgment? Sheesh -- come on boys, why don't you just have a cup of eggnog and settle down for the holidays?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Recycling We'd Rather Not See

The Akron Beacon Journal reported today that thieves made off with metal outdoor lighting fixtures used to light downtown's Cascade Plaza. Yet another metal theft in a city that has seen aluminum siding stripped off homes, while other thieves venture inside to loot copper pipes. Just a couple of months ago, huge sections of bleachers were stolen from Hoban High School and sold for scrap.

Scrap copper prices have doubled since 2003, fetching almost $3/lb while aluminum and other metals are highly sought by China, India and other countries.

Is it comforting to know that as the infrastructure collapses, busy little "recyclers" are making sure that nothing goes to waste? Now if only various plastics would become hot commodities for recycling.

Monday, December 17, 2007

CSI: Two Akron Stars

You might want to set your dvrs to this because it will feature two actors from Akron, Melina Kanakaredes and Leah Rachel. The latter is a former student making good! Congratulations to Leah! Your fans here in Akron will be following your career and rooting for you, as we have been since 6th grade!

From the CBS website:

Wednesday, December 19, 10pm et/pt

Happily Never After

The CSIs find a woman's body crushed under an ice castle sculpture with only her glittering red shoes visible. The victim is known around town as the "Wicked Witch of the Upper East Side" and the CSIs must investigate a list of enemies to find the real killer. Meanwhile, the discovery of a teenager's body leads the team into the world of clandestine pop-up parties held by New York's Prep School students.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

From Hil to Vil and back again

When Hillary announced her run for president, a call for blog postings went forth from her campaign web site. I sent in one that wondered out loud if Hillary could set her own policy apart from her husband's center right pro-business/rich people who are friends with Bill position. That post was not selected as the winning entry, however what I did get was inclusion on her email fund-raising list. Over the months, my email box has been full of missives from various power women, leading politicians, that icky James Carville, and of course, hubby Bill is forever emailing me.

Today, I get one from Hillary and it so appalls me, I must break my reticence to address her candidacy. Truth is, there has been a small part of me that roots for her because she is a woman. I wanted to think that she'd bring a more collaborative approach to problem solving than all those men. Yes, I know -- my gender stereotyping is showing.

But today's email from Hil to Vil is enough to shake me out of my gender-partisan views.
Dear Village,



Running for president means asking a lot of people to put their faith in you -- and putting your faith in a lot of people.
Sorry, Hil -- I never put my faith in politicians or anybody else for that matter. "Faith" is certitude of truth, even when there is no evidence. I was raised without faith, which means that I weigh the evidence and then establish the odds. To base a decision upon anything else would be foolish. I see you have been having some problems with people you supposedly put "your faith in" to run your campaign effectively. The world is taking notice that all is not what it should be in Hillary Land.
You've never let me down, and my promise to you has always been this: if you put your faith in me, I will fight for you every day when I'm president.
This clearly is addressed to another Village, as I have let you down time and time again, ignoring your fund-raising appeals. I will not be seduced by your husband's appeals, either!
When I get to the White House, I'll end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home.
Why should I believe you? You and the other Democrats haven't done anything in the senate or the house that would indicate a passionate interest in stopping the Bush regime dead in its tracks. And you conveniently didn't say when you'd bring the troops home or how many of them you are going to leave there.
I'll stop the cowboy diplomacy and Bush's war on science. I'll reverse the attacks on our Constitution and civil liberties. I'll ask the Congress to send me everything that Bush vetoed, like stem cell research and the Children's Health Insurance Program. From day one, I'll be fighting for you, because America needs a clean and decisive break from seven years of George Bush.
You haven't yet convinced me that you would break the cycle of American bullying around the globe. You might have to prove you have "the balls" enough to drop some bombs into some land filled with enemies of the American way of life.
Not one of the Republican candidates is capable of making that happen. They're all promising four more years of the same failed policies.
I'll grant you that. The Republican candidates certainly make the case for devolution.
They see Bush's failure in Iraq and want to continue it. They see failure of leadership on the economy and want to repeat it. They see his assault on civil liberties and the disgraces of Guantanamo and want to carry them on.
They want power and control, as do you. The problem is figuring out if there is anyone who can be given all that and actually do some good for the common people. You have pretty much stuck with the Republican bashing, which got you lots of mileage, building up your campaign chest and lengthy roster of endorsements.
We need a candidate who can beat them. Will you put your faith in me today...
No, Hil. I will not put something I don't know how to muster into your hands.

and make a contribution so I can take on the Republicans in 2008?

[Contribution link deleted.]

There's a couple more paragraphs exhorting me to have faith in Hil's ability to fight for me against the Evil Empire of Republicans, ending in one more Contribute Here link. Like I'd skip the first one and reconsider at the end.

I may have to end up voting for you in a general election, but don't ever assume that I will blindly believe that you are always going to "fight for me." And of this moment in the time line marching forward to primaries, I am not at all keen on voting for you.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Night Kick Back -- the Kinks

Sending this old favorite out to a new friend of the Village Green:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Major League Drugs

Looking over the list of "enhanced" players over the past decade or so, hoping not to run into names of any favorite players. No Omar, no Alomar brothers. Only some transient All-Stars popped into view: David Justice and David Segui made a couple of stops in Cleveland to collect some fancy paychecks and then move on to better sources of money and drugs.

Roger Clemens -- words cannot express my disgust! When I think of all the games he won by overpowering his opponents, all the while pumping himself full of various cheating potions. Everything he touched is now suspect. What a colossal ego, to risk the integrity of his sport (not to mention his health) on banned substances.

If this is what the public really wants, to see athletes unnaturally pumped up into comic book super hero figures, then there really should be two leagues: The League of Artificially Enhanced Players and the Major League Naturals.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Maximum Consumption Sure Keeps Getting Me Down

"Arctic warming trend speeds up" is the top of the fold headline in today's ABJ, stretched above a color photo of an iceberg floating away from Greenland. The sky is a sickening orange and the water a bloody purple bleeding ice melt into the Atlantic.

I imagine Mr and Mrs Consumer at home reading the local rag over the dining room table. He is deep inside the business section, while she is looking for ads for the latest sales. He looks up and sees the headline on the section she is reading:

He: Well look at that will, ya? The arctic warming trend is speeding up.

She: Hm?

He: Hey, let me have that for a minute. (He reaches over and grabs Section A from her hands)

She: Oooo there's a 50 Percent off coupon at Macy's on the back page!

He: (unfolding the front page and reading) "Rate of ice melting near 'tipping point'...Ice melting accelerates to new levels." Somebody ought to do something about that.

She: Hybrid SUVs are on sale now!

He: Let's go shopping! We can stop at Macy's on the way and pick up some takeout on the way home.

They return home later laden with plastic bags filled with stuff they don't need, packaged in non-recyclable plastics and pasteboard. Their plastic credit cards came in handy.

So is this a march toward extinction? A massive die-off of our species? Certainly those in control of the United States government have their heads up their alimentary tracts about that possibility. The Bush regime continues to pour outrageous amounts of firearm detritus and toxic smoke into the atmosphere in utter disregard for the future of the planet. And in the U$, the citizens are prompted to shop and sell each other real estate.

Nelson and Starr are OK

A message came in to the Village Green about Nelson and Starr, the hospital workers who tended Ray during his morphine days in New Orleans. Good to know they made it through Katrina.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Round and About Kenmore

So much has been going on here of late. The Boulevard of Broken Dreams is looking a bit spiffier, but still too many empty store fronts.

The new Kenmore Branch library is at last going up. The design is based upon the old Kenmore City Hall. (Pictured above.) For those who aren't hip to the history of Kenmore, it was once it's own city. Trolleys from downtown Akron would travel along tracks by Summit Lake and down to the Boulevard and then on toward Barberton.

If you talk to old time Kenmore residents, you will still find bitterness toward the City of Akron annexing Kenmore in 1928. I never knew the reason until I found the Kenmore Historical Society's web site. They have a page of Memories, a handful of interviews with long time residents. Here's a description of how the annexation went down:

Vern Christy, served as a member of the Kenmore Village Council for several years. He was, in fact, instrumental in collecting signatures of the 15,000 residents of Kenmore required to have Kenmore declared a City. It was just about this time that Akron came forth with their decision to annex the village. Kenmore's Mayor Hollinger and several on the Village Council were much opposed to the "take-over" and determined not to concede. The evening of the Village Council meeting at which the annexation papers were to be signed, Akron came prepared with subpeonas.

When the first subpeona was served on Mayor Hollinger, Council members Christy, Goetke and Jones and a fourth member ran from the meeting to forestall the signing of the annexation papers. The four were cited in contempt of court and the Sheriff was sent to "track them down." Verne Christy did not go home that night, but at 3:00 A.M. the Sheriff was there banging on his front door, demanding he come out. Christy's son-in-law, Walter Edwards, answered the door and asked what Mr. Christy had done, "murdered somebody?" The answer was "No", but "they were out to get him, and would, dead or alive." The four were located, and still refusing to sign, taken to the County Jail. Elmer Prentice went down to bail them out, willing to go to almost any figure to post bond for them. The judge refused to set a bond, sentencing them each to a week in jail. The four did sign the annexation papers, but they still served their full time.

Must have been exciting times back then in Kenmore. Now it is pretty tame, not to mention a bit threadbare and empty in spots. Again I imagine a Kenmore Boulevard filled with green businesses that have been created to solve the problems brought about by our excessive use of energy and other resources. I'd love to stroll down the Boulevard and be able to buy solar panels for my roof, and non-plastic items for household use. I'd like to take all my other plastics that the City of Akron won't recyle to sorting bins along the Boulevard where it is crushed and used again for something else. Not sent here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Energy efficiency gone wild

It was time to open up the bills and pay them. The Ohio Edison bill fell out of its envelope and into my astonished hands. I gripped the bill and drew it closer to make sure I wasn't hallucinating. My bill for the month of December came to $174.47. Holy jumping kilowatts!

In November, I had achieved my lowest kilowatt reading ever -- only 344 for the entire month. My highest reading of the year since Dec 06 was 549 in Sept 07. Suddenly, the bill read 1,514. Surely, there must be a mistake.

My house is small and I have been assiduous in conserving energy. All the bulbs are CFLs and I regularly turn off a power strip that supplies my computer, router, printer after I am done with them.

So a call to Ohio Edison was in order. Indeed, the meter reader had added an extra 1000 to my reading. The very professional customer service operator fixed it right away and I'll get a new bill soon for much less. My monthly electric bills have been reaching down toward the mid 40s per month this year.

November's gas bill, now that the heat is on full time, has risen to $86.97 and it is not going to drop any time soon. Brrrrr.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

December 8th tribute to John Lennon















A letter from Yoko on the anniversary of John Lennon's death. No, she didn't send it to me in particular -- it was posted on the Donovan list. But I'm sure Yoko would approve sending her message here and there all over the world:

Dear Friends

This December 8th is the 27th anniversary of John Lennon's passing.
You are welcome to visit IMAGINEPEACE.com at any time on Dec 8th for a special message & video.

WAR IS OVER! artwork is now available for download here. Print & display in your window, workplace, school, street, car, computer & elsewhere over the holiday season.

On December 8th, 11.15pm (your local time) remember John by taking a moment of quiet reflection. If you would like to play or sing the song "Imagine" and imagine a world of peace, just know that we are all together at that moment in every time zone, as IMAGINE PEACE makes its way around the world - every hour for 24 hours.

Send in stories & photos of what you did on December 8th to stories@imaginepeace.com for us, the family of Peace and Love, to tell us of your experiences. That would be lovely!

With deepest love
Yoko Ono Lennon

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Working Man's Cafe

Life has been not just a whirlwind but many of them. Blogging hasn't been an option for days, and I do apologize, especially since I will be taking some lengthy time off from posting here over the official school break.

However, I am happy to find that the BBC Electric Proms footage of Ray Davies singing the title track from Working Man's Cafe is now up at Youtube and posted here for everybody's listening pleasure. While I'm away, you can come here and listen to this over and over again until the album is officially released in the US in Feb 08. I think it is already available on US iTunes.

I cannot get enough of this track. I play it over and over and let the emotions wash all over me. I was born into the working class, with genetic code from generations of copper miners, cotton spinners, green grocers and stone masons. My dad was a brick layer when we were kids, which was very much a bonus for us, as he was often off work during winter snow season. He thought up great projects to while away the indoor months, like building a sailing ship to scale, a life size replica of a mummy case, and a model of the Parthenon. Eventually, he stopped bricklaying and became an antiquarian book dealer. My dad is my working class hero, for sure.

My mom was a pink collar worker until she worked her way through college and got to be a teacher after years of taking dictation, typing and assorted office work. She enjoyed teaching a lot more and kept on doing it for a long time. She lead the way into teaching and I have gamely followed her into the classroom. I will always owe her for lending me a suit jacket and skirt for the teaching interview that landed me my dream job. (First and last time I ever wore a skirt on the job!)

Now she and dad are retired and happily living in the little working class house that they built. They seek out working class cafes where a meal is cheap and the atmosphere unpretentious. I will never be able to listen to this song without thinking of them and all they have done for me. So mum and dad -- this one's for you:

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Complicated Life

New Orleans is hauntingly present in Ray Davies' new release, and now here is evidence that the influence is not just a one way street. In this video, we see life in the French Quarter of pre-Katrina New Orleans circa 2005, featuring the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band performing a great Kinks treasure from Muswell Hillbillies. This cover of Complicated Life features vocals by Clint Maedgen and a guest appearance by the New Orleans Bingo.





Thursday, November 29, 2007

Theatre notes

Yowza! It's busy time again. But I did want to say hooray for all the folks who are now back working on Broadway. For all the juicy strike details, go to The Playgoer, a great source for what's happening in NYC theatre. I'm glad to hear the stagehands got hefty wage increases. The cost of living in NYC is beyond anything I would want to face on a per month basis.

Another theatre note before I say adieu for the weekend -- for those many of you who don't indulge in reality television programming. The Wednesday episode of Kid Nation found the four districts challenged to set up schools and learn some Bonanza history. Bonanza is the name of the made up old west town the kids have been living in for over 30 days -- billed as "without adults" except for those behind the cameras and running the production. There was a big uproar about it to begin with, but so far it has been quite fun.

The kids set up their schools and a couple of them played hooky. One bright girl in the Green district suggested that they use drama to retain their history lesson. She'd heard the research that drama as an experiencing art form increased retention of information. At the reward challenge, Green team won! Go drama education! Yay!

Speaking of which, I'm out of here for a junior Thespian weekend. See you soon.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Morphine Song for Charity Hospital

Continuing with a song by song review of Ray Davies' Working Man's Cafe. Tonight we present Track 4: Morphine Song

How do you deal with getting shot in the leg? You write a song to go along with the rhythm of the morphine drip in your arm.
Listen to my heartbeat
Yeah all fall down someone help me off of the ground.
We are on a ward at the Charity Hospital in New Orleans, with a trad jazz band playing in the morgue. The pain killer doesn't stop the patient from observing the scenes around him. There's Star his nurse and Nelson his attendant:
Nelson and Starr
He's got ten grandkids, she's the third missus
He grooves around intensive care, strutting his stuff
He's got a perfect mullet hanging down his back
And Starr walks in, gives a little wiggle
Makes old Nelson grin
He tucks me in, touches my feet
"Hey buddy, you know you got a slow heartbeat"
And across the way is Brenda the alkie:
...the bed beside her is full of cables and leads
Nobody visits, nobody grieves.
She's a junkie and in pain but she's not the one getting the morphine so she cries:
"If I don't get better, I'm gonna die
I'll go cold turkey till I'm clean
I'll go to jail but you get the morphine"
The music plays with the rhythms of the slowed down heart and is supported with a charming traditional New Orleans style horn section backing a simple yet affecting acoustic guitar lead. Two voices teeter along in a child-like harmony on the "yeah all fall down" chorus.

It's a song that works on a lot of different levels at the same time. There's the surreality of the song writer finding himself on the ground and shot, then transported to a ward in Charity Hospital. Ray has said that one of his first thoughts while recovering at the hospital was to write a song to get through it.

Ray had been spending a lot of time in NO, was shot there in 2004, and his recovery was quite long. Just as he was getting up and about again, Katrina blasted away the hospital along with so much devastation and loss of life and homes.

The mournful jazz procession winds through a morgue in a hospital that no longer exists. Sure hope Nelson and Starr made it out OK. Glad you got through it, Ray.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dreams and Nightmares

Turns out I wasn't dreaming about Kucinich welcoming Ron Paul onto a shared ticket. Yellow Dog Sammy tracked the item down here.

Would that the news I heard on Olbermann tonight was just one big nightmare of a dream I could wake up from tomorrow. But alas, it turns out that in reality the White House has done an end run around your elected officials in order to bind the US to Iraq for many years to come.

This so-called US-Iraq Declaration of Principles and Friendship and Cooperation means that the US has effectively taken sides with al-Maliki's faction and will be committed to fighting his enemies in order to build "democracy" in Iraq. TPM Muckraker has the details.

And for the ultimate eyeball popping keep you up all night sweating news, check out this report on global water shortages and just try to think to yourself "it can't happen here."

WMC US release Feb 19

From today's Billboard online, news that New West/Ammal has snapped up the rights to Ray Davies Working Man's Cafe for a Feb 2008 release.

Looks like I'll be spending even more money as Billboard reports:
For the New West/Ammal release, the new album will be available in standard form as well as a deluxe CD/DVD with live performances and a video interview. A vinyl edition is also in the works.

Look for Davies to tour North America in the spring.
Time to start a savings fund so that I can catch a few of the US stops! Ah! Reason to go on living!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Nobody for president

The primary season ever so slowly approaches. Yesterday, I took Dennis Kucinich's logo (did anybody notice?) off my blog because I thought I had read that he was saying he'd consider sharing a ticket with Ron Paul. Then I tried to find the reference and couldn't.

Maybe I dreamed it. Or maybe I'm tired of trying to defend him when I know he's not going to make any headway. Ditto for Mike Gravel, although I am going to keep his banner up because he is the only candidate that I have made financial contributions toward. At this point, I don't even know if he's going to appear on the ballot here in Ohio, or whether my vote in the Ohio primary will have any significance whatsoever.

It was easier back in my no voting days. Nobody for President, because after all, nobody represents me better than anybody else. As each day passes on this endless slog toward actual primary voting, my antipathy toward all the candidates grows stronger. I don't trust any of them because they all are taking huge hunks of money from all kinds of special interest groups. They all court and promise and cuddle up so much that it doesn't seem possible that any one of them will be able to "lead" without being beholden to a whole lot of people with more money than I can ever dream of making in my lifetime.

Once the voting and adding up of delegates is all over, I wouldn't mind seeing a Clinton/Obama ticket. That was my day-after-the-Kerry-loss reaction and I created bumper stickers to put on my vehicle with those names emblazoned -- just to annoy all the jubilant Repubs driving cars with Bush/Cheney stickers.

Hillary is not a leftist, this is true. However, since we've swung so far right I predict the voters will want to go back through the center before they are moved to the left. And maybe with maturity, Obama will himself feel emboldened to take a more progressive turn. Well that's my current electoral fantasy.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Just say no to plastic

Fake Plastic Fish blog is the blog I wish I were doing. Blogger Beth Terry is trying to lower her plastic usage. Her blog is an outstanding resource for ways to avoid plastic. For example, she recently purchased a soy milk machine to avoid the plastic caps that comes with every brand of soy milk on the market.

Reflecting on all the plastic in the world makes one realize that it is pretty near impossible to live life plastic free in our society today. Plastic is everywhere, animals are choking on it and our landfills are comprised of stinking piles of leeching toxic plastics. So little is recycled.

I have a container I am filling with plastic caps from various bottles. I'm thinking I can do a wall mosaic with them some day. I've stopped buying any kind of plastic wrap or bags except for trash bags. Too many plastic bags come into my house without invitation, even though I'm using cloth bags for shopping all the time. They are foisted upon us without thought and we take them mindlessly home. Produce, pasta, bulk foods, even socks and underwear come in plastic bags. It takes determination to find ways to purchase goods without the attendant plastic.

At Fake Plastic Fish, I learned that most tin cans these days are lined with plastic. And glass jars come with lids that also contain plastic . You just can't win, when trying to avoid the stuff. What I admire most about this blogger's project is that she mails back packaging that she cannot recycle to the manufacturer with a request they switch to something biodegradable.

If I were young and just starting out in life, I'd be trying to invent compostable packaging that can be manufactured sustainably. Whenever I travel along Kenmore Boulevard, I imagine all the store fronts and small buildings filled with green businesses based upon sound environmental science and sustainable practices. Imagining a Kenmore Boulevard in a society that does not move in this direction is too horrifying to handle.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Do the Right Thing

As you know, this is International Buy Nothing Day, a great idea that needs to happen more than once a year. Could we have a weekly Buy Nothing Day and still survive? How about a weekly Drive Nowhere Day? Or a Use No Plastic Day?

But, but...there will always be exceptions, won't there? What if you have to buy medications for a sick cat or you have to buy a part to make your toilet work? Or in my case today, what if you find out one of your students got hit by a van and is in the hospital?

I packed up some kid books and headed over to Children's Hospital today. I didn't know whether my student would be in any condition to read or to be read to, so I stopped in the gift shop -- even though I knew full well it was Buy Nothing Day. I found a stuffed lion to represent an African play my student had appeared in recently.

Up in the room, the patient was pretty miserable with a broken leg bone at the hip, and other damage. He's going to be all right eventually, but right now there's some major pain to get through and a whole lot of healing ahead. The books will come in handy in a few more days, but right now all the patient wanted to do was to hug the toy lion and smile out a thanks to me for being there. We had a good visit, and that lion stayed nestled in the crook of his good shoulder all the while I was there.

I don't know if there is a moral to this story. The stuffed lion was probably not a fare trade item made in a factory where workers are fairly paid and have medical coverage. I should have stopped at The Market Path to look for a gift. That would have meant a slight detour in my trip to the hospital. But like most people, I didn't think ahead and just went with the impulse. Good intentions are so easily lead astray by what is convenient and what is not.

To make up for my transgression, I will Buy Nothing tomorrow. Here's why:

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving at the Working Man's Cafe

I was going to post a re-run of Ray Davies singing Thanksgiving Day, with the thought of it becoming an annual tradition, but alas -- the footage is no longer available.

But while searching -- hooray! From the BBC Electric Proms concert, here is Ray singing his new instant classic. For everybody who grew up with a greasy spoon, rather than a silver one. Access the lyrics here, and sing along!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"World peace begins in the kitchen..."

...reads the manifesto underneath VegiTerranean's logo on the menu. Chrissie Hynde's new restaurant in Akron finally opened last week and I was fortunate enough to get a reservation for a late dinner tonight.

One week before the restaurant was to open, management decided to make it exclusively vegan rather than the announced vegetarian format. How thrilling! I plan to go there a lot and explore my way through the entire menu.

Tonight I had a pizza on special. It featured mushrooms and squash. Since going vegan last summer, I admit to having had the occasional strong longing for pizza with cheese toppings. My pizza had whole wheat crust and was topped with wild mushrooms and a sauce mixed with squash. They also offer a pizza called "The Ghoulardi" with banana peppers, olives, mushrooms, red onion with spicy marinara.

The menu includes appetizers, soups, salads, pastas, the afore-mentioned pizzas and entrees made with something called Gardein, garden grown protein. My meal tonight didn't include any meat substitute, but I can tell you the soy cheese on the pizza was deliciously melted and tasted great.

Finally, a place where soy cheese and other plant-based forms of protein are the norm, not the unattainable. The restaurant is open evenings from 4 - 11 and will begin serving a lunch menu this Friday and continue Mondays through Fridays. They will eventually be open for lunch on weekends as well, and then plan to be open for breakfast hours with vegan pastries -- yum!

The ambiance was stripped down and sleek at the same time. What a great gift for Akron! Thank you Chrissie! Wonderful job chef J Scott Jones and the wait staff!

VegiTerranean is located at 21 Furnace St on the ground floor of the new Northside Lofts. That's the building at the foot of Luigi's off of old Howard Street. Phone for reservations: 330-374-5550. You will need them -- the place was hopping! It was great running into old friends and former students in town for the holidays. If you have guests coming in over the holidays, there is now some place very special to take them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Congratulations No Impact Man!

On this day in 2006 one man and his family began to live making zero impact upon the planet. They ate vegetarian and bought local. They biked, walked and scootered their way around town. They took the stairs instead of elevators. They did without a laundry machine and a refrigerator. On the rooftop, one small solar panel powered Colin's lap top.

Colin Beavan blogged it all, and today marks the end of his experiment and the beginning of making many decisions about how he, his wife, young daughter and dog choose to live on the island of Manhattan.

His end of year post is a must-read. Looking forward to the book!

Congratulations Colin. Your comments are heart-felt and honest -- I'm so glad to read that you plan to continue blogging. It will be interesting to read about how your family adjusts to the temptations of comfort and convenience.

We all have seven years to lower our carbon emissions or learn to live on a greatly altered planet. If we don't start making a lower impact, the day will come when we will be living in perpetual drought with water a scare resource, surrounded by ever growing pollution in air, water and earth.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Grim news but no headlines

UN scientists released a new report over the weekend, one that should have achieved screaming headlines around the world. The end is nearer than you think, especially if you don't put much trust in your leaders and your fellow human beings to cease releasing carbon into the atmosphere. Since 2000, the earth has heated up 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius). In a follow up story in Sunday's Washington Post:
To avoid heating the globe by the minimum possible, an average of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, the world's spiraling growth in greenhouse gas emissions must end no later than 2015, the report said, and must start to drop quickly after that peak. By 2050, carbon dioxide and other atmospheric polluting gases must be reduced by 50 to 85 percent, according to the estimates.
What happens if we don't meet that 2015 emissions goal? It doesn't look pleasant:
But if the world misses that target and does not stabilize carbon dioxide emissions until 2030, for example, the planet's temperature will increase by as much as 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit above 2000 temperatures, the report said. That level of warming would result in widespread extinctions of species, a slowing of the global currents, decreased food production, loss of 30 percent of global wetlands, flooding for millions of people and higher deaths from heat waves.
2015 is just around the corner. With billions of human beings crowding the planet and scrambling for resources, things are not looking very positive. Americans, for the most part, are still living a mindless disposable lifestyle, without bothering to think about what life will be like for their children and grandchildren.

This latest UN report makes it plain: those of us alive in a mere 7 years, are going to experience the sad decline and rapid downfall of the human race that could not save itself from its own compulsion toward comfort and convenience at any cost.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Do something useful -- Buy Nothing on Nov 23rd

As the holiday season approaches, ask yourself what do we, as a species, really need? More stuff? More calorie laden foods? More automobile exhaust on the freeways and in the parking lots of America's malls?

Or maybe we really need to stay home and clear out our junk. Donate the things that are usable to people who could really use them. Recycle items that otherwise clog our landfills.

On Friday, November 23rd, as the mindless masses head off before dawn to wait in line at Walmart and other big box stores, I'll be sleeping in. I won't be driving my vehicle that day, instead I'll be using the day off from work to put on some music and dance around the house. I may read a book or write a few emails, and maybe go for a walk with Oberon if the weather allows it.

What I won't be doing is spending money on stuff I don't need or stuff that others don't need. I hope you will consider joining in this coming Friday. Buy Nothing and blog about what you didn't buy!

For more information, visit the incredibly creative group known as Adbusters.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Days

Yes, it's been days since I posted. The fall production took over everything this past week and it will take a few more days until I catch up on who is ahead in the polls, what the Democrats are still not accomplishing, and a huge pile of blog postings captured in the Village Reader. All that and the house needs cleaning and still more winterizing.

The leaves finally decided to fall this weekend. I fill up my composting bin with them, then use the rest to top off various flower beds and other areas in need of a good mulch for the winter. I've got a box of spring bulbs waiting to go into the ground before it freezes.

It looks like I won't be getting to that full out review of Working Man's Cafe until the long Thanksgiving weekend. So for your Friday night musical entertainment, here's another selection from the BBC's Electric Proms of 2007. Thank you for the days, Ray Davies!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Now that you've found your Shangri-la

We are way too busy for anything other than listening to Ray Davies and the Crouch End Festival Chorus performing Shangri-la at the BBC's Electric Proms. "Proms" is short for promenading, which is what people liked to do at the original classical music festival from which the Electric Proms drew its inspiration and name. Ray was a featured act this past Oct 28th. Thanks to the person who got this up on YouTube so quickly. Let's have the rest, please!

Come on then, everybody sing along:


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Local TV anchor to appear on stage and on PBS 45/49

From a Weathervane press release regarding Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat:

Eric Mansfield of WKYC-TV3 will be taking a few nights off from the News on Channel 23 to make his stage debut at Weathervane! He will be singing and dancing his way across the stage as Joseph’s father, Jacob.

The show goes up Nov 23 and runs through Dec 15th.

For all the details, check Weathervane's web site.

And don't forget to watch Eric's first documentary, to be aired on Local PBS station 45/49 (cable position 10) tonight at 10 PM. In "Reporting the War -- the Journalists' Perspective," Eric will be interviewing local print, radio and television journalists on how the war has been covered by the media. Go here to read a press release.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Stagehands Local One on strike

Pictured here, a sub level of Radio City Music Hall, a domain of New York City stage hands.

Riding on the subway to see a show at the end of this past September, I listened in on a conversation between two stage hands. They were discussing a potential lock out by the Theatrical Producers on Sunday, September 30. That didn't happen -- just another bluff, but tensions have remained high and negotiations were going no where. So today, the stagehands walked and many Broadway shows are shut down.

According to Local One:

We are professionals and unashamed to state that we are defending good middle class jobs that pay our mortgages, feed our families and allow our children to attend good schools.

The producers' numbers, so widely distributed, are misleading at best and often bogus.

Their press release celebrated an offer of 16.5% increase in wages. But the producers failed to mention their offer was accompanied by a 38% cut in jobs and income.

We are the caretakers of the theatre, the protectors of the workplace. We keep it safe for all of us. Six days a week, sometimes seven, we are the first to arrive and last to leave.

What are the strikers fighting for? Shockingly, the producers want to get rid of the job of the flyman/woman. This is the person responsible for any piece of scenery, object or person hat "flies" into the performing area.

The producers' attack on flymen is ignorant to the basic safety concerns in any theater. Without a flyman, who would be addressing safety problems over head? Who would be checking rigging eight times a week? Who is the first line of defense against any fire in the fly space?

Why do you think there are still fire hooks and extinguishers, by law, located on the fly floors? And, if there were not a flyman on the grid, how long do you think it would take for someone on the stage to reach that fire-fighting equipment?

Automation? We've long embraced it. Local One is more productive thanks to automation. We've modernized along with the newest technology. We build, install, manage, and repair all of it. We operate safely tons of scenery moving around in the dark and at breakneck speed without injury to you or us.

And they do an excellent job of it too. There's something sublime about watching Broadway scene changes -- not a second wasted, and it is all live -- happening like magic before your eyes, not something made of pixels and digital tape.

So what about Broadway ticket pricing? Ticket prices these days amaze the heck out of me -- as I stand in line to pay $60 to a hundred bucks for 2 1/2 hours of entertainment? I'd feel a lot better if I know the actors and the technicians are making a decent wage and can afford to live and raise a family in the city where they work.

The producers will also fail to tell you and the press that Local One labor over the last few decades remains 8% of the overall cost of producing a Broadway show. We get raises only when negotiated, but the producers raise ticket prices with every new hit, not to mention $450 premium pricing.

Last year, the League announced Broadway box office grosses of $939 million. Secret is the income from licensing, secondary rights, film rights and the hugely lucrative merchandise sales.

The biggest secret of all is the producers' real profits.

The producers are also insisting on cutting minimums for load-ins/outs. A load is much more than unloading trucks. It is heavy work and it is also highly technical as scenery, lighting and effects are unloaded, set up in a new space and configured to work safely and according to plan.

The Village Green salutes the stage hands on Local One and stands in solidarity with them. I had been thinking about shooting up to NYC over one of the upcoming breaks. There were some shows I wanted to see that are now dark and shuttered. I'll gladly go Off and Off off B'way to satisfy my play going needs. I'm thinking the strike won't go nearly as long as the writers' strike as the theatres will be dark without any possibility of re-runs or reality programming!

Hang tough, stage hands:

In these negotiations, we put everything on the table except the safety of the stage crew and everyone entering the theater. The producers' attack on minimums is an attack on the safety and efficiency of the load-in of shows. It is also an insulting failure to recognize the size, the scope and the technical difficulty of the work we perform and the industry that is our life.

We stand ready to resume negotiations at any time and we stand ready to defend ourselves from the implementation of unsafe, unsound and unacceptable work rules that the producers are threatening to enact.

We are Local One. We are all under attack.

Respectfully and Fraternally,

The Membership of Local No. One

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Peace in our time

Working Man's Cafe is the only music I'm listening to these days. Just over and over until I can sing along with each song. I don't have time to write the all encompassing review yet and can't promise to get it written until the fall play is up and running.

So tonight I'm contemplating this song that might be an anthem addressing global conflicts, but instead is a wry take on a relationship:
Hey girl, let's begin again and try to help ourselves
We're like weary warriors who just came back from hell
You can keep your territory, I will stay in mine
Carefully negotiate and leave this battle behind
Then the mighty chorus with a magnificent build:
All we deserve is some peace in our time
Unconditional love is better
Peace in our time
The phrase "Peace in our time" makes me consider how many years of my life on this planet have coexisted with some kind of ongoing war being waged. The background and soundtrack to my life: wars in Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Nicaragua, Grenada, Iraq. Wars in the ghetto and wars against poverty and drugs.

And at home behind closed doors, wars with a significant other:
The two of us can't take it
Gotta have a truce so we can start
To put it together
Otherwise we're gonna fall apart
The singer is one who has been down this road before:
It really doesn't matter
'cos the world keeps going round
just like a roller coaster
If you let it, it will crush you down
The song maintains its interest by the continual interweaving of the personal story with the imagery of global conflicts, and then ending with a gut-wrenching image:
I'm tearing up the bunch of
Angry letters that you sent
Peace in our time

Monday, November 05, 2007

Voting to tax myself

Tomorrow's election will probably be a big snooze for most Summit County voters. In Akron, there are only a couple of contested races, and none in my ward. It's going to be cold and rainy, just the kind of day most people will choose to go home and turn up the furnace rather than go out to the polls to vote to increase their taxes.

Children's Services and the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board are seeking citizen approval of continuing funding so they can provide services to those who need society's help in order to survive. It seems like a no-brainer to vote for these two issues.

Issue 20 (ADM) would increase the monthly cost per tax payer from $3.50 per month to $7.53 (on a property valued at $100,000) while Issue 21 (Childrens' Services) would increase our taxes on average of 90 cents per month (likewise on property valued at $100.00).

This seems like chump change to me -- certainly nothing that's going to make me cry out in pain on pay day. And considering the work these agencies do for our citizens most in need of protection and assistance, we all need to make the effort to stop by the polls and give our support by voting Yes on both issues.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Not your normal Autumn Almanac

Autumn is slow getting to the Village Green. Look at my maple tree photographed yesterday -- not a yellow gold leaf to be seen.

There were no leaves to rake yet. Instead, I toured round the garden.
Two nights of frost have yet to have any effect here. My gardens, back and front, are sheltered somewhat, with a micro-climate that continues to produce roses, nasturtiums, zinnias, and snapdragons.

In the vegetable garden, I found a lone bee visiting a neglected stalk of broccoli. All the carrot seeds produced about 6 plants, only one of which I've pulled. That carrot was about 1 inch in diameter and one inch in length. I need to study up on my carrot gardening for next summer. The tomatoes are long gone , but I found a large sturdy pepper hiding nestled near the herb bed.


Inside, the transition from screens to storm windows is complete. This weekend, I installed some bamboo window shades, and replaced the summer curtains with heavier ones in preparation for the winter to come, as it will eventually. It is the season to patch and seal, tidy up and put away the warm weather clothing, the garden tools and furniture.

It feels like I'm on time, but the leaves are not on deadline. Off in the distance, a hazy patch of yellow paints the the green trees on Kenmore's great cliffs that overlook Summit Lake, hinting of splendid displays to come.

The weatherman predicts possible snow on Tuesday. We are prepared here, with all cracks caulked. The energy efficient furnace will not have to work too hard and hopefully, the gas bill won't be too outrageous.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Preservation Out Take

This is a hoot -- for those few folks who have ever heard the Kinks Preservation Acts I and II. Thanks to Neil of the Kinks Preservation Society for passing this along.

Some clever person came up with this rare "out take":

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Medea at Actors' Summit

My life is overwhelming me right now, with mega deadlines and other craziness. However, I would feel derelict in my duties as Village Town Crier, if I didn't encourage my local readers to check out Medea at Actors' Summit this weekend. It's gotten rave reviews, and deservedly so. Sally Groth is a sensational Medea and you really ought to see this performance.

Cameras and camcorders are fairly recent innovations and we are limited to only a little bit more than a century's worth of moving images from the past. However, when you go to see an ancient Greek drama or comedy, you are transported back through 2,400 years where you meet up with characters who are startlingly familiar. Jason -- what a bastard! It is difficult not to side with Medea (at least until the gory end of her two children) -- what a powerful woman, and at the same time a monster.

Medea is playing through Nov 4th. If you haven't seen any Euripides lately, this is your chance!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mike Gravel live tonight on the web

We interrupt the continuing review of songs from Ray Davies' Working Man's Cafe to send you a Mike Gravel update. He is being excluded -- wrongly -- from the debate tonight, but has made arrangements to do a web cast at the same time as the MSNBC debate and will be answering the same questions put to the candidates.
Tuesday, October, 30, 2007

Village Green

Even if you've read this, it's worth repeating.

Corporate censorship has taken over the Presidential race. I have
been excluded unfairly from the MSNBC Debate at Drexel University
this Tuesday. Why? GE owns MSNBC and NBC. Last minute, they
claimed I did not raise enough money.

I won't stand for this in my country!

Join me for this truly historic event, tonight! LIVE.
http://Gravel2008.us/LIVEDEBATE

I am broadcasting via WebCast tonight from Philadelphia
across from the debate site at Drexel University and I will be
answering many of the same debate questions that Hillary and the
others are answering at the MSNBC debate. So join me on the web
at 6pm PT, 7pm MT, 9pm ET at http://Gravel2008.us/LIVEDEBATE
...bookmark this page

If you live in the Philadelphia area, I will be at World Cafe Live
http://www.worldcafelive.com with hundreds of supporters and
anti-war protestors to protest GE (the owner of MSNBC and NBC) and
corporate media censorship in this election. Join me at "World Cafe
Live" -- doors open at 8:30pm ET.

Even if you have donated to my campaign, I urge you to donate
again. I need you to take a stand with me today. According to
NBC, money talks. Let's show them we can speak up!

Yours in gratitude,
Senator Mike Gravel
http://Gravel2008.us
http://Gravel2008.us/LIVEDEBATE -- link good for tonight only

Official Mike Gravel 2008 Campaign | P.O. Box 948 | Arlington, VA 22216-0948

Monday, October 29, 2007

No One Listen

Hey man, call the D.A., call the National Guard,
Call the President
Call anyone in the land of the free
'Cos they ain't gonna listen to me...
This one better get some airplay in New Orleans. For those who haven't been paying attention, Ray Davies has spent some difficult times in New Orleans, but he's not singing the slow and pain-filled blues. "No One Listen" is a hard-driving and relentless rock-out of a song.
The voice on the phone says we'll
get right back but they say
All the computers are down
And the chief prosecutor had to go out of town
No one listen, nobody listens
No one listens to me...
I feel like that a lot these days. So many examples everywhere I turn: The Executive Branch only listens to the Decider, while Republicans refuse to listen and Democrats claim they are listening but can't act. Meanwhile presidential candidates claim they don't listen to lobbyists or corporate donors.
Hey man call the government
Write to City Hall, United Nations
Tell the preacher at the missionary
'Cos he ain't gonna listen to me.
But nobody listen to me.
The more I look around my city, the more depressed I get at all the for-sale signs sprouting like fungi in the front yards of every neighborhood, rich to poor.
Blame the hurricanes, blame the drug trade,
The economy,
Blame the ghettos in the land of the free
'Cos they ain't gonna listen to me
Mayor says we are going to have a "green print" for Akron, but dumps that into the laps of the non-profit organization responsible for planting flowers around the city. Um, don't you think we need a few scientists, engineers, architects, water and energy experts and probably lawyers involved in the planning?
Everybody knows it's a cryin' shame
how the little guy gets kicked around
Everybody I talk to agrees that if you wanna get
heard its connections that count

Tell the National Guard
Tell the talk show on the TV
Tell the winos in the old man bar
'Cos they ain't gonna listen to me.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Down Route 93

Singing along to Working Man's Cafe, I made it to Berlin in just about an hour. This time I chose to avoid the interstates and take old state route 93 which runs from Kenmore down through the Portage Lakes passing through several old Ohio canal towns. Once past Canal Fulton, the road was relatively empty. The fall trees were in the best color they are going to achieve this long drought-ridden autumn. This grey dreary day produced light rain intermittently, but no complaints here, as the fields and trees need even more than was produced today.

One of the themes in Ray Davies' new solo CD is the pervasiveness of American influences around the world. The title song long mourns the loss of places where working people used to hang out and chat, family owned places with counter tops and familiar faces. The singer goes to the shopping centre of town trying to find a place where he'll fit in among all the retail outlets:
Bought a pair of new designer pants
Where the fruit and veg man used to stand
I always used to see him there
Selling old apples and pears
The fast food franchises began to disappear as Route 93 headed into Ohio farm country. I looked everywhere for a cafe, but there were none to be found, only large tourist trap places selling mounds of Amish goods. There are no cafes, only Cheese Barns featuring "authentic Amish meals."

Going deep into Amish territory is like driving straight into Ohio's rural past. Every now and then a jarring sight comes into view: an Amish woman wrestling with an enormous gasoline powered lawn mower on a steep bank by the road.

A modern egg factory barn contains the non-organic egg producing caged hens that supply Sauder's Eggs. Don't they look happy? Read the description of how Sauder's produce their organic eggs as opposed to their non-organic eggs and then ask yourself why are people still buying eggs from chickens that eat pesticide laden feed, are shot with hormones, antibiotics, fungicides and herbicides?

Berlin, OH is a tourist center in the middle of Holmes county and you know you are there when suddenly the traffic starts to back up. Just around the corner is Zinck's fabric store, a mecca for the serious costumer looking for a variety of fabrics at bargain prices.

Driving back, I begin to count the fast food chains, noting that Subway has made the most inroads into Amish country. I wanted to take some photos, but the rain grew steadier and more determined, so instead I hunkered down inside the cab of my truck, singing along to Working Man's Cafe, the words starting to stay in my memory and the haunting tune now deeply ingrained in my psyche.
Everything around me feels unreal
Everywhere I go it looks and feels like America
We've really come a long way down this road
Improving our surroundings as we go
Changing our roots and culture...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Frankenstein (A De-Monstration)























If you live in or around Akron, do not miss this production. New World Performance Laboratory is back with another presentation of their ongoing work, Frankenstein (A De-monstration) at UA's Sandefur Theatre. You can see it once more this weekend on Friday, Oct 26th at 8 PM and again on November 1-3.

Do not expect to see anything conventional, because with this company the conventional is a dry husk that is shed again and again. They are in search of the essential. They don't "pretend," they do their actions and in the doing reach the audience in ways we hardly ever experience in the theatre. NWPL's co-directors are James Slowiak and Jairo Cuesta. We are so fortunate that Akron, Ohio became the home to a theatre whose roots reach directly back to the work of 20th century theatre revolutionary, the Polish Laboratory director Jerzy Grotowski.

In this pieced and stitched together response to Mary Shelley's work, we are privy to the creation of the monster story and perhaps into the inner workings of the roving band of creative intellects that burst out of the British Isle in the But there are more monsters lurking within the dynamics of the Percy/Mary /Byron relationship and we are taken up by the very breath and heartbeat into the actions. I was very conscious of my own heart pounding as the actions intensified, which had the unusual effect of allying me with the monster. It seemed to me my heart wasn't my own at that part, and like the monster I could only wonder at the the strange organ beating inside me. It takes an amazing amount of energy and focus to create something so charged with shocking electricity.

I could not get over the shoes worn by the cast. All were wearing the most uncomfortable and unsuitable shoes, except for Frankenstein/Shelley (Chris Buck) and The Creature (Jairo Cuesta) who both were working in bare feet. Lord Byron (Justin Hale) in high heels and The Man (Alex White) in medium heeled pumps worked their change in status to perfection. The Woman (Debora Totti) wore men's dress shoes, while Mary Shelley (Megan Elk) and Elizabeth (Jamie Hale) wore tortuously high heels. This all added up to heighten the gender issues that swirled around the life and times of Mary Shelley and her comrades in art.

The costumes (Inda Geib), lighting (Christ Hariasz) and set (Benjamin Hardin) enhanced the patched-together theme of the material, which could also be a metaphor for the group's creative process. Material used for this production includes Mary Shelley's novel and journals, the poetry of Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, Milton, and texts drawn from Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Women, The Rainbow by DH Lawrence and original material written by the actors. There are references to and lines from classic horror films.

I was fortunate to see the first rendition of this piece last spring. It has grown tremendously, and yet still has that initial fire and astonishing power that made me want more at the initial viewing. I'm definitely going back for another look this time round. NWPL always delivers masterpieces that reveal more and more the deeper you look into them.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Working Man's Cafe available via iTunes

I couldn't wait for my order to arrive from the UK. Once I found out that I could download Ray Davies new release, it was click click and all last night spent in listening to the new tunes. I hope to post a full review over the weekend. By then I should have the hard copy with printed lyrics to reference. The only posted lyric from this new CD is Vietnam Cowboys, which can be found at Dave Emlen's Unofficial Kinks Web Site. Right now I'm still absorbing and responding to the work. I can tell you that the brilliance of voice, lyrics and music continues to grow brighter than ever, which is great news and inspiration for all of us who can remember -- back in 1965 -- the first time we heard Well Respected Man on the radio.

My favorite way to get into new music is while driving. There's something about that car stereo that gives the music a heightened immediacy not so easily obtained from an iPod or home stereo. Fortunately, I have a long drive planned for Saturday, down to Berlin, OH, an annual quest for fabric and I can't wait to pop that CD in and blast away all down the highway.

I can tell you that the standout songs for me so far are Working Man's Cafe, The Voodoo Walk, and In a Moment. Most controversial may be Hymn for a New Age, in which the singer doesn't believe in "God" but wants something to look up to. "I believe I want to pray but don't know what to." One always has to tread with caution when interpreting any RD song. The temptation is to say this is his actual view of the world, when so many times he is writing about characters outside himself.

New Orleans resonates throughout the album. The music, the city and its people, and Ray's recovery from a shooting incident that took place in the city are referenced. The album, produced in Nashville with American musicians, is very much about the US, and yet-- there is no official release date for Working Man's Cafe in this country.