Thanksgiving 2010: Some Things I’m Grateful For

Give it up for old school (and the Oskar Blues brew pub’s vintage arcade room):


John Davis for helping make people aware of obscure American treasure, Blind Tom Wiggins (for eight bucks you can download this album at and it might just be the best money you spend this month, and possibly this year).


Speaking of American treasures, how lucky we are to have Mark Morford who is like a Mark Twain for our times or a David Sedaris with a political acumen. He slices, dices and souffles our imbecility and hypocrisy, and makes you laugh while you read about it (that itself is a minor miracle). Check him out this week, at the top of his game on the TSA silliness. Sample for your pleasure (and so I can read it for a third time):

Let’s also put aside the assorted political bitching of people like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — never one to pass up an opportunity to whine like a goddamn child and blame Obama for everything, despite how it was the Bush administration that invented the damnable TSA in the first place. Jindal says we should skip the groping and scanners and use some kind of profiling instead. Dear Gov. Jinhal: That’s a fine idea. Of course, you yourself, with your shifty eyes and scary, anti-American Hindu lineage, would be singled out for a hard grope in a millisecond. Just sayin’.

More? Okay!

And let’s ignore the inconvenient truth that a recent ABC poll found that 81 percent of Americans actually support the full-body scanners, at least until it happens to them. Is it not wonderful? Are we not a nation of fanciful hypocrites? Just add it to the list: security cams, irradiated food, red light cameras, handguns in bars? You bet! Except, oh wait, unless you’re talking about something near me.

That artists like David S. Ware, Matthew Shipp, Hamid Drake and William Parker are making music today that will be studied the way we dissect and savor all those impossibly perfect albums from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s:

William Parker Quartet:

David S. Ware Quartet:

For GQ writers, who continue (along with Esquire and Oxford American) produce the best feature stories year-in, year-out. 2010 is not over yet, but I already know I’m not going to read anything better, or more affecting, than Kathy Dobie’s piece (from the March issue), The Few, The Proud, The Broken. I’m sure the guy sitting next to me on the plane thought I was quietly weeping because my iPod had run out of juice, but it was actually because of the coruscating story I was reading. It got inside me and is still there. I’d suggest you read it, and keep it handy for future debates when your tax-cut-for-the-wealthy fellow Americans are using that shallow, scolding tone to talk about “entitlements”. Our collective willingness to wage war (on future generations’ tab!) and ignore the traumatized soldiers who return home has to rank near the top of topics we need to address.

For air conditioning:

Hey DeLay, how are you enjoying the (long, long overdue) hammer of justice?

For this guy with the Red Sox tat on his SCALP (and for me being able to get his picture without him noticing and beating me up):

For the spider that has lived in my car since this summer.

For having a great Pops, Mom and sister/brother combination.

For John & Holly:

For Arthur Lee and all the gifts he left behind, like this:

For Beethoven and Barenboim:

The collective wisdom of crowds (thank you YouTube!).

And finally (for now), Myron (and his mum), one of the most wonderful, soulful stories I’ve been fortunate enough to see this year.


Tron vs. the Yard Sale Yahoos or, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka!


My buddy Hersko, who is such an early adopter of technology he owns things before they are invented, mentioned to me that he had finally gone digital. (I half-seriously wondered if he had discovered a way to turn into Tron and when I say Tron I mean this guy and not this guy.)

As it turns out, he was referring to his impressive ability to finally upload his remaining compact discs so that his music collection was entirely digital. (For the average consumer, this is not a noteworthy accomplishment; particularly for the folks who have been buying MP3s for years now. For music freaks, who have been collecting CDs (and cassettes, and, sigh, LPs) for decades, the decision to go digital is one that involves expense, commitment and an inordinate amount of time.)

I honor and admire his decision. If nothing else, on practical levels, the storage-space liberation must seem well worth the bother. As someone whose music collection takes up considerable (and, to friends and family, unbelievable) space in my not exactly spacious two bedroom condo, no one needs to explain to me the manifold benefits of jettisoning these ancient discs. But I haven’t, and I won’t. For one, because although I’ve filled up most of my iPod with music I own (thereby making the CDs that were uploaded ostensibly superfluous), I still have thousands (!!) that I would need to copy. This would require an intolerable allotment of time, and at least two more iPods. Also, I say without pride but without unreasonable remorse that I am that guy. I actually will defend my dust-attracting, space-sucking, antiquated compact discs, housed in their all-too-destructible plastic armor. I like the liner notes; I enjoy actually being able to find the discs if I sort them by artist and genre (something that would be too cumbersome if they were burned and placed in those little leather booklets). Also, I’m sufficiently old school that I still miss the idea of albums. Finally, as Hersko acknowledged, trying to sell CDs these days nets you anywhere from a few bucks (unlikely) to five cents (typical). In short and in sum, fuck that nosie.

So there it is. And here is Hersko, wisely unloading old camera equipment, old DVD players and his now officially useless CD player. As well as a ton of CDs to the highest bidders. Unlike Hersko, I used my beloved Nakamachi MB (Music Bank System) until it literally stopped working, and even then I dragged it to the dumpster kicking and sobbing. Even took pictures of it (see above). That CD player, which I used for over a decade, was like a car that turns over 300 k on the odometer and finally gives up the ghost, or just falls apart like the beloved Bluesmobile at the end of The Blues Brothers.

In the end, Hersko had the typical yard sale experience: his damaged, unwanted, too-shitty-to-sell-on-eBay goods attracting crowds like a dead carcass drawing crows. All there anxious for a good deal and prepared to negotiate down to the penny.

Me: “How did the garage sale go?”

Him: “Great: Got rid of a ton of shit. People are nuts…there before 7am; haggling over $2 and they pay the $10 from a wad of $100s…”

Kind of like this guy?