Bike Thief, Motherscratchers

 

 

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Stuck in a Dream

Ok, so here’s some news:

My friend Patrick White, who I knew as a guitarist, is now a bass player. And a good one. He plays in a band in Portland called Bike Thief, and they’ve got a new record.

Some of you are probably already scolding me, ‘Hey lahikmajoe, they don’t call them records anymore.‘ They do if it’s on vinyl. And Stuck in a Dream is on vinyl. Like a real band or something.

What if you don’t have a turntable?

Well, they’ve prepared for that eventuality.

Go to their Bandcamp website here:

Bike Thief’s Stuck in a Dream

You can load up on all the Bike Thief merchandise you’ve ever desired. Oh and most importantly, you can get the digital version of Stuck in a Dream there, as well.

Just in case I’ve been derelict in introducing the band properly, here’s the lineup:

Febian Perez: Lead vocals, Electric guitar, Acoustic guitar, Synthesizers
Greg Allen: Viola, Violin, Synthesizers, Backing vocals
Patrick White: Bass guitar
Steven Skolnik: Drums and Percussion
Thomas Paluck: Electric guitar, Backing vocals 

Purportedly, they’re on the radio in Prague. If there’s a tour, they might make it to Munich. Patrick has already been warned that even if they’re music is well received in Amsterdam, the band’s name won’t be embraced. As our mutual friend Jodi reminded him, stealing bikes ain’t cool with the Dutch.

Ode to Joy

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Tonight’s the Eurovision Song Contest, and during the voting they’re singing Ode to Joy and climbing ladders. As one does.

I don’t care how camp this thing is, I watch it every year, mock it on twitter and laugh at the voting from the countries that couldn’t get their entry into the Finals.

If you have no idea what this is, I’m not sure you want to research it. My parents were visiting me one year during the weekend when the Grand Prix was on. They watched it with me and were completely baffled by the whole ordeal.

This year? I suppose the bearded lady from Austria. Or the Polish maidens churning butter & washing clothes. Yes, that was a thing.

It’s a bit like an annual World Cup for the Homosexualists. Was that an insensitive comment? I can live with that.

wish I had a river I could skate away on

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This is from one of my very favourite songs of all time, and I don’t know why. Why I love the song so much, I mean.

It’s just like that sometimes, isn’t it?

See, I’m a songwriter, so I think a lot about what makes a great song. There are lots of theories, and I’m fascinated with all the ones I’ve heard, but ultimately a good song is one you love. Full stop.

Really.

The one included below is a rare recording of River, which if you don’t know it is on the Blue record. Aunt Joni put that particular long playing album (LP) out in 1971, and every hippie chick I’ve ever known had a copy. For many years it was either the actual vinyl record, but later it was a cassette tape and then even later it was the cd.

Every song’s a classic. Really. If you hate any or all of Blue, you’ve got no heart. You’re dead to me. It’s that simple.

If you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, go get a copy of Blue. Download it legally, go look through your mom’s music collection…really find someone/anyone who’s got a copy, then copy it for your own collection. You could even import it if that’s your preference.

You’ll be glad you did.

do what you love

Playing the guitar surrounding by sixties design wallpaper in Lisel's front room

Playing the guitar surrounding by sixties design wallpaper in Lisel’s front room

This is one of my photos from London, and I’ve been considering different ways to continue blogging about those two trips.

See, for those who haven’t been following at home, I went to London to see Robert Godden and hang out with my friends Nigel (this blog’s London correspondent) and @elaine4queeen this autumn, and then a short time later my mother was going to be in the UK, so I went back again.

I could’ve simply flown to Manchester, where she was going to arrive, but the flights were prohibitively expensive, so I flew back to London, had some meetings with people in the tea business, and spent some more time with the above-mentioned friends. Additionally, I met @vsopfables at Heathrow on my way out of town, and she and I agreed we’d have to spend a bit longer together next time. It was simply too short a visit.

So, why have I included this photo? What’s my morsel of wisdom I’d like to pass onto you today?

It’s quite simple actually.

Most people look at this, or other blogs, or twitter or social media in general as one big swirl of narcissism. Although I believe there’s a great deal of that going on in the places I’ve listed, I’d be willing to argue that it’s not all we’re about.

My message in this blogpost is really one of the bigger truths that I’ve happened upon. One of those things I’ve figured out during my brief time on this earth. It’s so simple and so obvious that the more cynical of you will likely say, ‘Was that really necessary? Did you have to make such a production of this? You’re simply proving that you’re the narcissist we’ve always taken you for.

Well, I’ve got two things to say to that. One is: some people like my photos and whimsical posts and some prefer when I wax philosophic. Some like both, but not many. Quite a few of you have expressed delight when I lay off on the text and stay with the images that make you laugh. Others could do without the filler, and respond positively to my more serious attempts.

The blogposts that take a few days of pondering and writing and rewriting…those seem to make some sort of difference. At least if I’m to believe the comments I get here and the conversations I have with people after I’ve written them. No matter how lacadasical I sometimes might appear, I take this blogging thing quite seriously.

Why?

Years ago someone said to me, ‘If you’re a writer, you need to be writing. You can’t wait for that gig to come to you…you need to keep your writing skills honed and you can use your blog to do so.

I’d toyed with several blogs, none of which I’ll bother mentioning by name, but they had no direction. They were self-indulgent to the extreme. They had no interest to anyone but me.

Then I tried my hand at teablogging, which I still do inadvertently, but I found myself talking about anything but tea. It was great fun to weave tea into these other topics, but at some point it became essential that I find another outlet for my thoughts.

Enter the Dachshund Blog, which you’re now reading, and all the whimsy that’s fit to print. It was designated as the Dachshund Blog by our good friend Lisa Galaviz  over at The Best Self-Help T-Shirt Catalogue Ever in the early days of this endeavour back in the Year of Our Lord 2011, and it took me FOREVAH to stop posting photos of Dachshunds and stories about Dachshunds. I did it eventually, but it was really difficult.

After that, I moved on to real topics that needed to be discussed. Things like poop in postboxes in you’ve got stool and less serious topics like circumcision in Germany, which I covered in getting a baby’s consent is no easy matter.

Back to the photo above. What’s my nugget of thoughtfulness?

Do what you love.

That thing – that when you do it – time stands still. Or appears to.

For me it’s writing. Or playing music.

Or planning the overthrow of a certain Eastern European government that’s been rather anti-democratic lately, but I’ve probably already said too much about that.

If you know what that is for you, do it more often. With vim and vigour.

If you don’t know what that is yet, then find out. You’ll be glad you did. I promise.

Jason Mraz broke my fingernail…sort of

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Here he is practising mind control over his adoring fans.

If you know anything about me, it might surprise you I went to a Jason Mraz show. Although I’d love to say I’m open-minded about most things, I’m particular about music. For reasons that’ll soon be obvious, I’d rather say as little about the music itself as I possibly can.

To each his own, I say…or I try. Here was a venue filled with his adoring fans, and who was I to question the man’s songwriting or performing abilities? No, I’d rather simply not go there. For one thing, I was there at the invitation of one of those committed fans and a lot was riding on whether I could mask my real impressions regarding the evening.

Instead of dealing with all of that, I’d rather focus on more important things. Things such as Jason Mraz personally breaking my fingernail. Well, not personally. Nevertheless, it did happen at his show and there were a lot of butterflies and good vibrations graphics up on screens behind the stage, so I think indirectly he’s responsible.

Why does it matter anyway?‘ I can almost hear you asking. ‘You’re a dude. Why do you even have fingernails long enough to be broken?

It’s the fingernail on my ring finger of my right hand, which incidentally is rather important to me. I play acoustic string instruments, and have never quite gotten the hang of playing with a pick. I use my fingernails. It feels better to play this way, and, in my opinion, it sounds better.

It’s certainly not a matter of  life and death, but it is frustrating. And while waiting for my nail to grow back, I’m left playing strangely syncopated rhythms that’d make even Thelonious Monk uncomfortable. Not a pretty sight, either. It’s like there’s a part of me missing.

After making such potentially specious allegations against Mr Mraz, I suppose I should at least attempt to recreate the scene. You can decide for yourself if I’ve got a case.

See, we were at one of my least favourite local music venues. There are some bad places to hear music in the world, but Zenith in Munich really is one of the worst rooms I’ve ever encountered. Acoustically, it’s the equivalent of an airplane hangar with the doors wide open.

Every time I hear a concert there, I vow that it’ll be my last. Not my last show – just the last one at this godforsaken location. It’s that bad. Don’t go there.

Then, for some reason we seem to have chosen the perfect spot in the audience to stumble in and out of the crowd. General admission without any seats means you’re going to have a bit of mayhem, and I’m all for mayhem, but there seemed to be a thoroughfare of people either leaving or going towards the prime real estate right in front of the stage and that thoroughfare went directly through me.

As if I was wearing a sign on my back that said, ‘You need to knock this guy down before you get to enjoy some soothing, uplifting tunes about peace and harmony,’ and these were some earnest and committed fans who weren’t going to let anything come between them and their namaste.

In retrospect, I realise now that I was ok with all of that. At the time, it was a bit annoying, but if it’d just been that, I’d have let the evening’s entertainment wash over me, and make my way back to my temporary bed, where I’d most probably sleep deeply with a good-natured sense of purpose and presence. This music was going to work its magic on me whether I wanted it to or not.

But then it happened. I’d come to terms with my evening and made some sort of a reserved peace with all of it up to that point. Despite the fact that I cannot prove it, I have come to understand that it was then Jason Mraz intentionally sent one of his zombie-like pod-people fans to wreak havoc on me and my carefully crafted personal détente with him.

One of those people on the well-worn path directly through where I was standing either dropped or knocked over a sugary beverage right where my bag was standing. At some point soon thereafter, I looked down and there was a lake the size of Buffalo at my feet. My things were soaked and I suddenly lost all sense of hard-fought mellowness I’d achieved as a result of the music.

In a rage, I scooped up my possessions and stormed back towards the exit. Glaring at the first aid volunteers provided by the Red Cross, who were standing by in case of an emergency, I was quietly seething that they didn’t recognise the severity of my predicament. My things were all wet and sticky. Isn’t there some sort of Red Cross protocol for just such an eventuality?

Well, there should be.

Only after I’d completely dried off my bag, entirely without any assistance from the nearby Good Samaritans I might add, I noticed that my above-mentioned fingernail had been broken during the melee.

He might be singing about eating vegan and everybody getting along with one another, but my fingernail’s gone and I’m holding Jason Mraz personally responsible.

How soon is now?

The Smiths in much earlier days

How soon is now?

No idea if the link above takes you to The Smiths video that I wanted, but it’s what I was listening to as I contemplated a quick blogpost.

What wisdom do I want to impart today?

It’s not quite a cliché, but it is so obvious that it’s easy to overlook or forget. Here it is:

All we have is right now. This very moment. Not five minutes ago. Not a few minutes or hours from now.

Does this mean we can’t plan things? Of course not. Or does it mean you can never get nostalgic? I get choked up by a memory of my dad, who died more than six years ago, on nearly a daily basis. Not my point. At all.

But even with all the exceptions and the qualifiers, the truest of truths is that you only really have now.

Make the best of it. Tell your people how you feel.

Peace with family or friends who done you wrong? Make it.

I’m not joking. Make your peace. Don’t wait for the other side to be generous. Don’t play with that sort of thing.

My day today was all about the moment.

When I awakened, I knew it was going to be one of *those* days. You know the ones, right?

Everything was going my way. Down to the most miniscule wishes. I was somehow on fire with all the things good that were happening. Not a bad place to be in.

Did I appreciate it? You bet I did. I’m still appreciating it. It’s not over. Not by a long shot.

idling right

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Played a private party on the Isar this evening, and it really was quite enjoyable. Relaxed and a bit languid, even. I told Jarrod that I used to play gigs in a tuxedo and this was much more fulfilling. Wouldn’t go back to that earlier life as a musician for anything. Not that anyone misses me in the classical music world. There are plenty of people willing to do that sort of thing – I’m just glad I’m no longer one of them.

You might be wondering what we played, so I’ll list a few of the songs here. We normally play a lot of originals when people want to hear our tunes, but this sort of event is normally all covers. I have a weird history with covers. I like the lesser-known songs of many artists, so if you ask me to play Harry Chapin‘s Cats in the Cradle, I’m more likely to pull out Danceband on the Titanic or A Better Place to Be instead.

My friend Dermot came by to listen, so we did a few Dylan songs for him. Both I’ll Be ‘Your Baby Tonight and Just Like a Woman. My compadre on twitter @Hazelblackberry would’ve approved. She likes Bobby Zimmerman.

We did If You Needed Me by Townes Van Zandt and Jarrod likes playing Whiskey in a Jar, so we did that. I’m sure Townes would’ve approved. Maybe not the song but the sentiment, I’m sure. Alan Parsons Project‘s Eye in the Sky and Daniel LanoisWhere Will I Be, which are two of my favourite songs.

Rain by the Beatles and Rod Stewart‘s Maggie May. I know that was a huge hit for him and I just said that we avoid the better-known cover songs, but by then we were just trying to play anything that people might recognize and enjoy. They were a tough crowd. Very cool and reserved until near the end. Jarrod played REM‘s You Are the Everything from the Green album.

We’ve been doing Friend of the Devil (music by Jerry Garcia and John Dawson & lyrics by Robert Hunter) since we were playing guitar and bass (before the ukulele obsession), so we did that and later we closed the evening out with Brokedown Palace. It was the perfect ending to a party on the bank of the river. Look up the lyrics. They’re beautiful.

At some point, I’ll upload a recording of Idleright. It’s the least I can do.

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