Saturday, June 25, 2016

Peerless Life in Allston Rock City

[Allston Rock City: Corner of Harvard & Brighton, circa 2005]
Allston is a thickly settled multi-generational, multi-cultural Boston neighborhood off the Mass Pike. It's a student ghetto, situated on the 57 and 66 bus routes, and the B train from Boston College to Boston University to Kenmore (Red Sox territory), and onward into Park Street, where you can change trains and get pretty much anywhere you want to go.

Upper Allston is the busy ramshackle Mah Jong board of brownstones and walk-ups and restaurants and coffee shops and tattoo boutiques and thrift stores and churches and a thousand other urban services and delicacies. Stand in the middle of Upper Allston any time of day and you're in the perfect spot to take the pulse of Rock City. It's a hopping hive of students and rockers and immigrants from everywhere, and when you stand on the corner at night, you think, "Excellent city."

Lower Allston, or "LA" so dubbed by its genial citizenry, is a comparatively quiet residential sprawl of vintage double and triple deckers.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ode To Star Market (2002)

This was a poem that I wrote in 2002 about the insanity that is the Porter Square shopping center parking lot. It's chaos all the time. The poem, such as it is (I'm no poet) had an original title of Ode to Star Market (How I Did Not Get Sushi Last Night And Made This Up In The Car On The Way Home).

Ode To Porter Square Star Market

Star sells sushi a la carte, that's why I'm bound to go there
Otherwise I stay away from Supermarket Nightmare 
Homeward bound this dusk from
A big enormous yen for sushi hit me like a bomb

"Do I dare?" I asked myself, approaching Porter Square
This time of night, without a doubt, a monster lurks in there
Writhing, ugly, slow and crass, a teeming steel and rubber clot
Evil, angry...what, you ask? The friggin' Porter parking lot!

Dreams of maki and wasabi danced around my hungry head
I steeled my nerve and gripped the wheel and gunned it straight ahead
"I am going to park this car," with all the grit that I could muster
(Note to self: Never heed your inner Colonel Custer)

I took a breath; I'm all alone and no one had my back
Angry lady almost rammed me with her giant Cadillac
I should have bailed then and there, but damn! I wanted sticky rice!
If not for that I'd not have risked my sanity to sacrifice

I chanced another round in hopes a space would open up
Saw Soccer Mom in Minivan flip off Dude in Pick-up Truck
Chick in Audi terror-stricken, Man in Beemer idled
Warning signals from myself, "You're getting homicidal"

Abort! Abandon Porter Square! Forget about the snapper!"
Oaf in Camry! Taurus Loser! Subaru Brake-Tapper!
I finally made it out and home, to contemplate my foolishness
How much did I want that fish, and how much did I need that stress?

You may also like: Boston. Because F**k You.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Straddling the Great Digital Divide

What I love most about being a true blue Gen X'er is our passage from analog to digital. There's something comforting in the shared experience of taking a flying leap together across a great technological chasm. From Etch-A-Sketch to iPad, from wall-tethered telephones to iPhones. Technology moved fast during our lifetime. We climbed the mountain, we surfed the wave, we sped along the information superhighway with all the windows open. We optimized for mobile like champs. Ours was a triumphant, graceful grand jete across the great digital divide.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Any Other Sunday (re-dux)

  Saturday, June 16, 2012
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
Father's Day. My day to reflect upon the fact that I've never turned any man into a father. Certainly not a daddy.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Music Makers and Dreamers of Dreams

I retract my earlier published theory about musicians, and offer a new one.

Aliens. Pretty sure it's aliens. I've done research and I submit to you, my loyal readers, that musicians are descendants of an enlightened race that landed an unknowable number of millennia ago and set up camp with early mankind. Lots of them are still here, just walking around, saying stuff, acting like everything is normal. Granted, the reviews have been mixed.

I assume what these strangers from another planet were trying to do was bring to earth a universal language so that mankind could communicate irrespective of spoken word. At first with just sticks and rocks. Then animal hides, bones and gourds. Then wood, ebony and ivory and Mozart. Then electricity and steel and Jimi Hendrix. It gets quite complicated after that, because technology and Bob Moog and those guys we don't think of as "rock stars" but nevertheless changed the world. [See also Chapter 5, "Cosmik Debris," search term "giraffe filled with whipped cream," Chapter 7, "Movers and Shakers" search term "Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy," Chapter 10, "Gods and Monsters," search term "Tonto," all of Chapters (Prince symbol) through 😭 and in fact most of the rest of the book.]

Since one possible outcome of this bop-bop-a-loo-bop sorcery, when expertly applied, especially at night, is a lot of rocking and rolling...ya know, the horizontal mambo? The wang dang doodle? Sex. Music leads to sex...or...or maybe it's the other way around. Either way, there's been a certain degree of interspecies hanky panky resulting in these complex descendants that may or may not have retained this cosmic knowledge in their DNA, and to compress volumes into one word, we named that "talent." In theory, any of us likely have some degree of musical talent. But in reality, it doesn't always work out -- sometimes you'll get the musical talent without the proper gift of expression (we call those "teachers" or "sound guys"), but sometimes it's the other way around (we call those "writers" or "comedians"). They are all terribly important and should be thanked and appreciated more often. Bring them money and food. Get Cheez-its.

Who You Jivin' With That Cosmik Debris?

Musicians manipulate the air, causing particles to collide and vibrate into what they call "notes." They control the rate of these vibrations by shaping time into specific pulses they call "beats." It gets more complicated after that, I'll do a diagram or something later. But this talent is as close to magic as you can get, is it not?  Within and between the notes and beats is a mysterious kind of unteachable "something." Music can bring people together, convey wisdom and trigger memory. Music grants courage, provides comfort and nurtures love. Music can define, amplify and connect ideas. This is a force so powerful that it frames time and space, defines entire regions and speaks for generations. Look around and find out who are these miracle workers.

We idolize our rock stars. But generally speaking, oddly enough, we've endured roughly a century of disrespect for future rock stars. Stop making that noise, cut your hair, go work in a bank, you're a bum unless you're getting paid for your time, and conveniently, through an unexplained series of events, nobody wants to pay for music anymore. Like it ain't no big thing. Dare to dream the dreams, future rock stars. As though anyone could stop you.∎


♯ ♯


by Arthur O'Shaughnessy

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;
World losers and world forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities.
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Trigger Warning: Fucking Guns

In the wake of yet another senseless mass shooting, social media has erupted in the expected din, self-righteous advocates on both sides of a hot button issue feverishly posting their little hearts out. It's a futile loudness war fought online with Tweets and memes and platitudes flying high, nobody winning and nobody backing down. Candlelight vigils, thoughts and prayers.

Fuck the candles. Ban the guns.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Taco Monday

Make your fresh guacamole and salsa while your tortilla dough rests.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

This time it's Joey who's got jury duty

Joey was already gone when I woke up. Jury duty -- that shit starts early. He brought a book. It's Mel Torme's tell-all, The Other Side of the Rainbow: Behind the Scenes on the Judy Garland Television Series. Because of course it is. I got him that book from someone online. It's actually an old library book, so at first he thought we had to return it to the library.

"You mean I get to keep this?" Yeah, baby! It's yours! He loves Mel Torme, if that's not clear.

I love him so much. 🎔

Currently Reading

Forged: Writing in the Name of God
it was amazing
tagged: currently-reading