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, said Wednesday.


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.

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?


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 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 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.