So Much Good Music In My World

But Some Of It Is Just That Little Bit More Special To Me.

Recently, I found a blog post from days gone by when one chiseled the words onto a stone tablet and downloaded it off of a rubbing that one made: you know, the days of yore (or as we know it, 2006). It seemed like a good idea to revisit and see what has changed.  And, fuck me; most of the list did not change. This does not mean that great music has not happened in the past 7 ½ years, because it has. Adele and Joe Bonamassa are both close to being in this list. Joe Strummer and his brilliant band, The Mescaleros, did make the list.

But at its core, the songs remained the same, so to speak. The only changes to my top ten were “Global A-Gogo” and “Fascination Street”. The metrics for creating the list were quite simple: what do I like the most and what do I find myself wanting to listen to at times of intense emotional need. What these songs have in common is intense emotional arousal in me – whether it is sadness, anger or whatever.  And, with the exception of Bob Marley and Jeff Buckley, I have had the pleasure of seeing these acts live:  some of them many times.
???????????????????????????
1 “Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones.

To me this is everything that makes great rock and roll. You have the greatest, baddest band of all time at the peak of their powers talking about the Altamont and one of the low points of their career. It is a great guitar riff, with great vocals and an incredible counterpoint joined together in rock music perfection. Not only is this my favourite rock song of all, but I consider it the greatest rock song of all time .  And it’s Mick ‘n’ Keef …

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
2 “Love Reign O’er Me” by The Who.

I love the discordant piano into to this song. I love the Quadrophenia story. I love the back story of Pete having a breakdown writing the music for Quadrophenia . But Roger Daltry gives his greatest performance as a member of The Who on this song and it transcends everything else in this and takes a great piece of music and propels it into the realm of true genius.

3 the clash
3 “London Calling” by The Clash.

This was the only band that matters: and I think, for my generation, it may still be true. I consider myself to be a North London punk, I am from the real punk rock generation, and this is my band. And this is my song by my band. This is the time and place where my politics became firmly entrenched in the left. The Clash were brilliant, militant musicians and revolutionaries: and I was just a rat following the pied piper of punk – Joe Strummer.

4 kinks
4 “Celluloid Heroes” by The Kinks

Ray Davies writes great songs. Dave Davies is a great guitarist. Together they were nitroglycerine of such instability that the Gallagher brother can only be seen as pale imitations. Over the years, the Kinks set themselves as true forerunners of punk. But this wonderful, poignant piece is so sad and so beautiful that it still moves me forty years after it was written.

5 joe strummer
5 “Global A-Go-Go” by Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros

There is so much joy and such sadness when I think about Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros. Joe was having an amazing renaissance and producing music that featured amazing world beats fused with politics and tempered by age and experience. It was, in many ways, the equal to his original burst of work with The Clash and I can only begin to imagine what he would have done if that generous, wonderful heart had not given out. To this day, I miss Joe Strummer more than any musician who has passed on but I have this song that I consider his personal gift to me…


6 “No Woman, No Cry” by Bob Marley & The Wailers

Bob Marley would be one of the four faces on my musical Mount Rushmore (Joe Strummer would be there too). I learned about him and Peter Tosh and Eek-A-Mouse from my dad’s West Indian cricketing buddies during the hot summer of 1976. To this day I listen to lots of reggae and ska and I still love Bob Marley and The Wailers. I love “Exodus” and “Three Little Birds” and all of his great music, but “No Woman, No Cry” is my favourite live track of all time. The organ is so cool and when you see film of The Wailers performing it live and moving in unison as they play. … wow!

7 metallica
7 “One” by Metallica

Let’s face it, even crap Metallica (Load and Re-Load, perhaps) are miles better than most bands best. But “One” is them at their very best on their best album ….And Justice For All. It uses one of their traditional formats with a long bridge complete with tempo change (that double kick bass is intense, why doesn’t Lars collapse in a cramping heap?) and Johnny Got His Gun is also one of my favourite novels of all time so when a great band makes a great song about it …

8 the cure
8 “Fascination Street” by The Cure

It’s all about the bass on this Cure song. I am assured of this by the bass playing number two daughter whose learning the bass line for this song is ranked ahead of graduating from high school in terms of her achievements (and I still cannot figure out how she managed to graduate).

9 elton
9 “Madman Across The Water” by Elton John

While drug addiction, self loathing and questioning one’s sexual identity are terrible things for a person to endure, it definitely fueled a creative frenzy in Elton John. And while many people point to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road as his greatest album of the ‘70s, I personally prefer Madman Across The Water and the revised version of the title track is my favourite song on the album. To this day, I can put this album on and instantly I am in a reflective mood and harkening back to the glory days of Watford Town FC as a force in football and I was a kid on the terraces watching.

10 jeff buckley
10 “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” by Jeff Buckley

You can feel the pain on this: so much heartbreak, so much need; so much love. The Grace album is the only album made before his untimely death; but it is one of the truly epic American masterpieces. In my opinion, this song is the best song on an album where every song is great.

The almost made it list:

11 “Alone, Again Or” by The Damned (That dynamic flamenco riff slays me)
12 “Down Around My Place” by John Hiatt (Brilliant)
13 “Hurt” by Johnny Cash (The greatest cover of all time)
14 “Little Wing” by Stevie Ray Vaughan (Guitar virtuosity that is incomplete)
15 “Shadowplay” by Joy Division (RIP Ian Curtis – you are still one of my heroes)
16 “Adam Raised A Cain” by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (Power and pain)
17 “Working Class Hero” by John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band (Better than any Beatles stuff)
18 “Run Like Hell” by Pink Floyd (Brilliant music for when I am angry and want to take it up a notch)
19 “Cradle Rock” by Rory Gallagher (Another of my guitar heroes – this is his best)
20 “Blue Jean Blues” by ZZ Top (Texas blues at its best)
21 “Ballad Of John Henry” by Joe Bonamassa (Check out the live BCC version sometime)
22 “Rolling In The Deep” by Adele (Overplay could not kill this song – she is phenomenal)
23 “It’s a Beautiful Day” by U2 (This never fails to cheer me up)
24 “Let It Be” by The Beatles (The greatest goodbye of all time)
25 “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by The Police (always makes me dance around the house)

Advertisements

It Still Counts As One!

I am a blessed individual. I have two daughters and they are now 23 and 19 (almost 20) and they still love to hang out with dad. Over the years, even though I am that most despised of societal creatures – the divorced father, I have forged a very tight bond with both of them.  We do a lot of things together all of the time even though the oldest is now married (sometimes she even lets her husband tag along) and the youngest is busy starting forge a modelling career and travelling the world. Besides our love of all things Warhammer 40K, we love to go fishing together.

Willamette RiverAnd it is just as much fun going fishing with the oldest now she is 24 as it was when she was 14 and even as much fun as when she was 4: and taking a 4 year old fishing is a riot. Dad, being dad, used his trusty Shakespeare fishing pole from Larry’s Bargain Basement that is 30+ years old now while junior wing-girl #1 used her new UglyStikk that an over indulgent father purchased for her.

Standard family fishing league rules applied: you have to land it to count it and in the event of a tie it is down to the number of bass caught. Please note that in the picture I am indicating that this whale (you have to squint to really see it) counts as one (the commissioner of the family made a ruling) and a myriad of tiny cousins of his also each counted as one. There were some nice bass caught too – along with a pair of underpants that were at one point tidy-whities and now had a permanent skid mark colour (and the commissioner ruled that this did not count as one (but maybe a number 2)).

lrg_1375021729189_9028293444_fe0dd2c8So dad took the day, which is actually a rarity when fishing against either daughter, and we had a good time. Next up is salmon season in September and October which is where I do my best work. Oh, the son-in-law does not fish and hates touching the yukky worms and gets bored after ten minutes and talks incessantly while fishing ….

“Wise Men Say – Only Fools Rush In”

“But I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You.”

It must be the 85th minute  (you either understand this, or you don’t!)

It has been so long since I have written about football (or “soccer” for my US friends and associates and sundry others:  although more and more of them do now refer to it as football – but I digress) and there really has been much to ponder, mull and just generally poke at to see what happens in the world of football.  For the sake of brevity, we shall only look at the goings-on in the US; which are actually rather exciting at this time.

Clint Dempsey steals the number 2 shirt in Seattle.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Dempsey is one of my favourite players and has been since he was a New England player.  His signing for Spurs last year from Fulham just cemented that.  And really the weekend move from Tottenham to Seattle is massive.  To quote Paul Atreides “the sleeper has awakened” and now that Seattle has decided to go for it, they have shown that they will not fuck around.

They have tied up the best US player, and the national team captain, and paid a market value transfer fee and will pay market value wages for him.  Clint Dempsey will strut his stuff in front of the second best fan base in MLS (and North America) for a club that should be thinking about competing with the biggest clubs in the world.  This is a sign that the MLS is coming.  And to quote Fox Soccer analyst Rob Stone “LA Galaxy, you are on the clock!”

Caleb Porter has the Timbers playing football the right way in Portland.

calebporter

I will admit that I was very skeptical when it was announced that Caleb Porter would coach the Timbers.  It was going to be very hard to follow John Spencer who while seemingly unable to organize a fart in a bean factory, was affable and brutally honest.  But the football played by the Timbers has been of a consistently high level in all phases of the game:  and it is entertaining to watch.

Now, I am tempering my comments by stating that I believe this to be a three-year project as Caleb Porter has a future far beyond coaching an MLS team and that everyone involved in running the Timbers is doing a good job of tempering expectations while still accentuating the positives such as the massively improved road performance without glossing over the issues still needing to be resolved such as too many draws.

Merritt Paulson has the business end of the Timbers pointing in the correct direction

paulson

It would be very easy to stand pat and reap the rewards of sell out after sell out, but the exceptional owner of the Timbers, Mr. Merritt Paulson, dug deep and made shrewd pick-ups this year in Will Johnson, Ryan Johnson and Michael Harrington.  Signing Mikael Sivestre was looking to be a stroke of genius until his knee blew apart.  Instead of hand wringing and tears, the team went out and found Pa-Modou Ka who has shown why he has played at the top level in Europe in Holland.

This has allowed the team to develop Andrew Jean-Baptiste who looked top class the second he set foot on the field last year.  Everyone loves the center back who hammers strikers with crunching tackles and flies into the header, but every team wants the center back who is elegant, refined and who reads the flow of the game (but can still kick lumps out of an opposing player) and that is Andrew Jean-Baptiste. I just hope that the Timbers are able to keep him (and Darlington Nabge) and he becomes a great player here.

The new soccer first stadiums are fantastic for the league and for experiencing the game.

blue hell

I grew up at White Hart Lane and Villa Park and Vicarage Road while watching Spurs, Villa and Watford play in various divisions in the League.  I learned about watching fantastic footballers such as Glenn Hoddle and Andy Gray playing in games that were intense and meaningful and I also learned just as much about the game watching shit players playing for shit teams on a cold Saturday afternoon as they played on a swampy field in driving sleet or rain.

The fan experience was exactly the same.  We sang the same songs and cheered our heroes on and were as defeated as the players were when they lost.  That is the fan experience that is bringing the MLS into the national conversation as to the best sport.  Fans are choosing to actively participate with their heroes and the new stadiums are built to be intimate.  I would love to see something similar to the new KC stadium for the Timbers even though Jeld-Wynn can only be classed as a “house of horrors” for any opposing team.

seattle fans

Seattle has incredible support and I used to go up to Sounders games regularly before the Timbers joined the MLS.  Philadelphia and KC have amazing fan bases as does Houston and Real Salt Lake and they all have fantastic stadiums..  These are the homes of real fans that sing their songs, chant their chants and generally have an amazing time at the game.  If America was not so vast it would be wonderful to see what kind of travelling some of these fan groups would do…

Jurgen Klinsmann just might know what he is doing!

jurgen

For a while there, several years back, the luster sort of began to tarnish on the brilliance that is Jurgen Klinsmann.  The US men’s team had a less than spectacular series of games and then a rocky start to the so called “hexagonal”:  the six team playoff for World Cup spots where it is actually harder to not qualify than to make it to Brazil.

To quote Brian’s mother “e’s not the Messiah, he’s just a very naughty boy!”  Or at least that is what the media was intimating.  But Herr Doktor Klinsmann was brought in to do much more than just qualify the team for the World Cup.  He was brought in to nudge the team from regional power to global power:  and he might just be well on his way.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

The US is very fortunate in that it has had three very good national team coaches in a row – I would love it if England had managed to accomplish that.  What Klinsmann did with Germany was amazing and he set the stage for the new German domination of the game at club level.  German players are commanding top wages and transfer fees worldwide now – many of them got their international debuts under Jurgen Klinsmann.

Joachim Loew, who is also a fantastic manager, is reaping the benefits of this now:  much as I expect Caleb Porter to reap the rewards when he becomes US national team coach after Klinsmann decides he’s had enough.  This is why I feel there is a time frame for the Timbers current plan.

The US National team had an easy time of it at the Gold Cup.

nick rimando

Well this is very true – but it is not because the competition was weak.  The US team showed up well prepared, fit, highly motivated and functional.  Every game posed challenges and through a combination of good tactics, good adjustments, good players and good coaching, each game was won.  And this was really a B team:  but it played exactly like the A team and showed that the US has depth at every position.

In fact several players deserve a lot more of a look as number ones.  Perhaps several starts should be in the offing for Nick Rimando as he was superb in goal.  There are now five legitimate strikers who offer everything from strength to speed to guile to size and Jurgen Klinsmann used different combinations to exploit the weaknesses of the team he was coaching against.

landon

Tactically, the US team has taken the quantum leap on the field from being the hunted to being the hunter.  They now set up the team to win rather than to not lose and very few teams do that and it is the mark of a manager who has supreme confidence in himself and his players.  I also love the fact that he made Landon Donovan play his way back into contention for a roster spot – nobody is more important than the team.

Sometimes enough is enough  

holden injury

Stuart Holden could, and should, have been a great player.  Watching him limp off in the 20th minute against Panama was incredibly sad since it was probably the final time he will wear his national colours.  England’s Owen Hargreaves and Michael Owen come to mind as being the last players to go out this way with severe injury after severe injury sapping everything that was once so great.

A four year spell featuring a broken leg, then another broken leg plus mashed cartilage and now a torn ACL after a relatively innocuous collision might be the end of the international career of Stuart Holden.  This is the player made to fit into the midfield with Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey – now he just needs to recover and get his Bolton career back on track.

Politics will always be part of the beautiful game…

rainbow tifo

Soccer always has been a politically charged sport – that is why Real Madrid v Barcelona is so huge in Spain. It was why the citizens of Brazil used it as the backdrop to air their grievances with their government and FIFA. It is why there is always such trepidation when Roman club Lazio and its “ultras” host teams from the UK or Germany or plays against Roma as they have a very right wing fan base.  And it is becoming a vital part of the game here.

I was incredibly proud to stand in the North End and be part of the amazing rainbow tifo that was shown in a recent Timbers game to show that the Army supports all.  What is developing here is an amazing anti-hooligan culture where the emphasis is on loving your team.  We welcome everybody who supports the Timbers.  We love all of the Timbers players and proudly display their national flags for them.

PTFC

It Rolls Downhill, Can’ardly Make It Up!

“Every subject’s duty is the King’s; but every subject’s soul is his own”

― William Shakespeare, Henry V

Henry V

Greetings and salutations, members of the Proletariat:  it is I, your Beloved, and Revered, leader just dropping to ask “S’up?’ in a non-derisory manner that allows you to think that I am one of you (but just more Beloved and Revered).

Every day I mingle with my minions a la Henry V to seek out whether they are appreciative of the mundane aspects of their trivial lives, if they are content to revel in their mediocrity, and see what they think of JT’s new album (he is a righteous dude).  I do this while working on weapons of mass destruction alongside my “peeps”.

Kim

So while I was journeying home today with the lemmings, on their road to the inevitable cliff, I decided that I was in need of mental nourishment and diverted to the local library.  And after a quick sojourn to the biblioteque and being showered with flowers strewn by urchins and photographed “looking at things” like late lamented cousin Kim, I headed back to Xanadu and the Pleasure Dome that I, your Beloved, and Revered, leader call home.

On the way back home, however, the despotmobile was stuck behind a Prius.  Now, as munificent as I am, as all embracing of my people as I am, even as much as I care about the bunnies and the flowers as I do, nobody should drive a vehicle that is powered by three AAA batteries.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Don’t get me wrong, I, your beloved, and revered, leader loves the environment and I am looking forward to passing it along to the future dictatress for life when she assumes said mantle in the distant future.  But this vehicle was absurd and should have been called a Rolls Can’ardly as the speed it managed to attain was mainly gravity influenced.  We even got up to 15 mph at one point…..

And what is my point?  People who live in battery powered automobiles should ask what their batteries are made of (it’s not slugs and snails and puppy dog tails) and where the batteries go when they die.  Now that is off of Number One comrade’s medal bedecked (and hairy) chest, I, your Beloved, and Revered, leader can watch last night’s wrestling that was DVR’d…. I love the little Daniel Bryan: so tiny but so angry.  Yes! Yes! Yes!

daniel bryan

Some Real Crap That I Read On The Crapper

I think that the archaeo/crypto/apocalyptic thriller has now finally run its course. In many ways this is quite a shame, since I have enjoyed many of these types of novels in the ten years since The DaVinci Code was published. But as good as The DaVinci Code was, Inferno isn’t.

Even though Dan Brown has only written four Robert Langdon novels, the plot from novel to novel has become so heavy and predictable that I can only compare it to John Cena’s “5 Moves of Doom” that he unleashes in every professional wrestling bout: talk about the need for an “Attitude Adjustment” on Dan Brown’s part.

inferno

The greatest indictment of Inferno is that I could easily have stopped reading at page 100 and I would not have been in the least bit bothered. I would not have wondered what ever happened to Robert Langdon as I had already read it all three times before. Fortunately, the author is not prolific so I will have four to five years to get ready for the next novel. And John Cena will still be using the same five moves to end his wrestling matches at that time too …

(And please, for the love of God, no movie with Tom Hanks.)

Fuck It!!!

7-stupid-people-funny-quotes

And so, two and a half weeks ago I made what could, should and would have been the most reckless move of my professional life.  I gave into impulse and after that metaphorical, and in this case, literal last stupid question, I packed up my coffee mug, grabbed my calculator and quit my job.  Right there, right then, I walked up to my pseudo-boss and said “I am done”.

Now dealing with stupid people and stupid questions is integral to what I do for a living.  In fact, if a business had no stupid people working there making bad decisions, then there would not be a need for a person such as myself to come in and fix things and get the business running and the shipments flowing.  But come on people, enough is enough.

stupidpeople

Up until three weeks ago, I had never quit a job in my life.  Not once, not ever:  not when I was working as a sixteen year old prep cook at a delicatessen (and gaining a love of cooking); not working in retail while I was in college; not even working in manufacturing where quitting is almost a rite of passage.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have been fired (quite rightly too) and I have been laid off.  But never in thirty five years of working hard, day in and day out as a slave to the grind, had I ever just achieved that moment of clarity (and that is really what it was) where it was all summed up by two simple words – “Fuck it!”

It reminded me of how my outdoor soccer career ended.  It ended exactly as the sage of all sages (my father) told me it would.  I would wake up one morning and I would know that I was done.  And he told me it would be something innocuous that would be the catalyst rather than a serious injury or conflict with coaches and/or teammates.

warning labels

In this case, I woke up one Sunday morning in February and it was cold and windy and rainy as only Portland in February can be, and those two magic words sprung to the fore – “Fuck it!”  And just like that, my outdoor career was done.  I no longer had the desire to run around in the rain and snow and wind in order to kick people around, over and into the mud bogs that doubled as “soccer fields” at that time in this area.  I did play indoors for another seven years.

Shakespearean aside now complete, I will get back to the original topic:  two and a half weeks ago, I quit my job at 10:30 am.  I was sick from working long hours; I was worn down from the constant stress of trying to get everybody following the plan, and I was mentally beaten down from working with the certainty that I was wasting my time and my skills on this company.

dont get mad at stupid people - craftsnark

I had tried to give my notice in mid-February, and I even gave them four week’s notice in order for them to adequately replace me.  But after meetings with the owner (who I think is an amazing individual) and the head of HR (who said all of the right things) I agreed to give it twelve weeks.  I made it six weeks.  I should have left after the original four weeks.

But all’s well that ends well.  I have already been working for a week at another company.  My phone started ringing the day after I left and it has not stopped ringing since then.  I am working at another manufacturing company for the next three months and that is everything that I want right now.

thank bp

Looking Back On Electing A New Pope

It makes sense that Pope Francis I is from Argentina

pope

After all, God is from Argentina too!

st lionel

Nepotism:  it’s a good thing.