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The death of Robin Williams has drawn a lot of attention to the topic of depression, again. The video above was posted by Spencer Tweedy to twitter and it’s worth watching—even if it doesn’t star a major Hollywood star. Millions of people live with depression in their lives: this tells one man’s story.
I was never really a Beatles fan in the way that many people are. My aunt and uncle were—they had a complete collection of the albums on 8-track to play in their Plymouth Duster—and that may have led to some overexposure. Who knows.
I do remember one of the first records I found and played on the portable record player I kept in my bedroom being my mother’s copy of Meet the Beatles and it was in Grade Five when I bought a copy of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for myself. Holy cow, that record was a revelation. I may not have been a fan but I sure liked what I’d heard there.
Watching and hearing George Martin talk about he creation of that album’s unique and distinctive closing track A Day in the Life reminds me of talking to other restless musical collaborators I’ve known. It’s a reminder that the creative process is a group effort and that music does not, as Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno explain, simply burst forth fully formed.
I’ve actually had A Day in the Life on repeat quite a bit this week, though I’m not sure why. It’s the kind of song that gets into your head and stays there for a while. It’s a rich sonic trip from the acoustic beginning through that disjointed middle part to that glorious orchestral conclusion.
Songs like this don’t come every day, and it’s a reminder of the level of creative genius that resided in that foursome—along with their producer.
My uncle Gerry died a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday—August 16th, 2014—would have been his 67th birthday. Gerry was one of those really solid, great guys that you were lucky to have in your life. Even tempered and quick to smile his quiet laugh was an undercurrent to every conversation he ever had.
Gerry became a golfer later in life, but his first love was always baseball. When we were kids he had seasons tickets to the Jays and it was alway a treat to go to a game with him. My brother and I would usually go together—one of us would sit with Gerry, the other one with someone else (often my Grandfather) and we’d switch seats partway through the game. Gerry was a catcher as a kid, and he never lost the love for that game that runs through our family. On the wall in his house he had a map with a a ticket for a game from every single major league stadium in North America. He managed to get to them all, and the last time I saw him he talked about having to redo that adventure now that new teams and stadiums are in the league.
He loved music, that guy. His taste centered on Willie Nelson and what would now be considered classic country and western. The last time I saw him was about a year ago when I was in Hamilton for the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic. I had been lucky enough to attend a dinner the night before with the Harvest Picnic crowd including Emmylou Harris and Daniel Lanois. It was a pretty special night for me—my birthday, actually—and Gerry and I got together before I headed to the show the next day. He was proud of me that day: he always enjoyed the success I’ve had in the music industry, and our tastes sort of converged in later years. He gave me a short message for Emmylou and I passed it along later that day in the backstage area. It was, no doubt, one of thousands of such messages she’s received in her lifetime and quickly forgotten but I’m glad I got to pass it along anyway. I wish Gerry could have been there.
I never went to a show with him, and that’s a chance that’s slipped into the impossible now. I’m lucky though, and have some very good and talented friends and a couple of weeks ago Reid Jamieson was playing a show just down the road from where I live. Reid’s got a beautiful voice, a gift for songwriting and taste in music that overlaps with Gerry’s quite a bit. I chatted with him briefly before the show and asked him if he could play some Elvis for me—Gerry loved Elvis, and it wasn’t lost on him that his birthday was the anniversary of Elvis’ death as well. Reid got up on stage and played a beautiful set of music and just before launching into the Elvis tune he was planning on playing looked out into the audience, pointed and said “This one’s for your uncle.”
And so it was. I sat there on the shore of the pacific ocean where I live sipping a beer and crying behind my sunglasses, while Reid sang. It meant a lot, and Gerry would have loved it. I only wish he could have been there with me.
So long Gerry. Your friends and family miss you. Don’t worry though: I’ll keep playing records for you, and if I ever get the chance again I’ll make sure to tell Emmylou you said goodbye.
IBM does a pretty fantastic job of pushing information loaded email messages out. They’ve moved some communications to Twitter as a primary distribution channel, but email remains better for much of the stuff they do and they still do it well.
The most recent note I got from them made me chuckle though, especially after I verified what I suspected was the case: them email’s legal disclaimer was almost as long at the email content itself.
I’d find it funny, if it weren’t entirely unsurprising.
Data is a funny thing. For a long time—essentially, as long as human beings have been creating things our ability to have stuff was limited by the practical realities of space. Things took up space, and when you ran out of space you essentially had two alternatives: get rid of some stuff, or get more space. The end result of this is a television show called Storage Wars that, frankly, makes me despair for humanity’s future but that’s a separate topic.
A nice little five minute film that shows Jeff Tweedy backstage before a benefit show at Chicago’s Old Vic theatre.
Pete Seeger is one of the legends of American music. He passed away today at the age of 94. Calling it a loss seems insufficient at best, and it’s certainly a disingenuous statement.
Seeger wrote and sang songs that championed a vision of equality for all working men and women. There is probably not a single person who did more for the sake of folk music than Seeger has through the years: he worked and was friends with Woody Guthrie, whose death cut his voice short in its prime. Seeger was an early advocate of Bob Dylan’s work, and was instrumental in getting his first record deal cut. The legend of Seeger threatening to cut the power to the stage when Dylan ‘went electric’ at Newport will go down in history as one of the great tales in the history of American music.
It’s a safe bet that a lot of banjos will be played tomorrow in honour of the man. Mine will be one of them, to be sure.
Rest in Peach, Pete. You gave so much to the world in your life and it will not soon be forgotten.
Bankruptcy, of course, is not necessarily the end of anything. Bixi may come back as strong as they ever were. It’s not a good thing though, by any stretch of the imagination.
The fundamental question facing cities that have bike sharing in place is this: is bike sharing part of the public transit infrastructure of a modern urban environment or is it a business offering a service like any other?
I’d argue for the former: cycling is on the rise again and has become an essential part of the transportation matrix of any urban environment. Yes, it’s much more predominant in the summertime but even in the snowy winter you can see plenty of cyclist in Toronto or New York.
As part of public transit, bike sharing should receive public funds. I’m not suggesting that the service should be free but, like a subway or bus route, it shouldn’t be run on a 100% cost recovery basis either. Bixi’s bankruptcy, in this situation, could be a sign that we just haven’t gotten the balance right yet: it might be that memberships and hourly rates should cost more, or that government needs to commit more funds.
Either way, it won’t make a different in Vancouver. Vancouver’s very late to the bike sharing game and has had numerous false starts along the way. None of it will matter: Vancouver’s bike sharing program will fail because of the helmet law. I’m not particularly judgemental about that, I’m just saying that it will happen. It seems likely that the program will have to fail in order to effect any change with respect to the helmet law.
There’s still hope for Toronto, Montreal, New York and other similar locations. Keep your fingers crossed for Bixi, because it will be much harder to get going a second time. Vancouver seems likely to learn that lesson the hard way.
This took me back to a time not that long ago that reminds me how much my life has changed in the last five years.
If you’re looking for reasons to add to the “why Skot keeps thinking about moving to Toronto” list, places like the Belljar Cafe should be on there. This is beautiful.
A bit strange, but everyone has a mortgage to pay.
I’m pretty sure I’ve been to this show…
I waited a long time for a Ruth Moody gig to come to Vancouver. A couple of weeks ago I actually drove right past Grafton, Ontario while she was playing at the Shelter Valley Folk Festival, but just couldn’t stop. It was totally worth it. My review is up at No Depression or you can follow the link at the bottom of the entry. There’s also a too shaky video of her Dancing in Dark that I couldn’t resist posting…despite the shakiness.
I offer up an ongoing series of lessons in bike maintenance based, primarily, on my own experience. Many of these, it seems, revolve around my ongoing love/hate relationship with the disc brakes on my Kona Sutra.
Basically, I love them when I’m stopping and I love them a lost less when it comes to maintenance. That includes changing the pads, in part because it means removing the wheels. Traditional brake pads can be swapped out quickly and easily in under five minutes front and back. Disc brakes are a bit of a more involved operation.
Still, today’s lesson is this: if your pads look like the ones above, you waited too long. That one on the bottom left from the rear wheel. The fact that the spring has corroded and broken probably explains quite a bit of drag on the rear wheel and the steady screeching I had for the last couple of weeks in which I was too lazy to do this.
Another fact of note: these were BBB replacement pads and I’ve hated every pair of aftermarket pads I’ve ever put on. Back to Avids, which cost about $3.00 more per side. Worth every penny.
So I finally got to hang out with Rose for a few days. It was pretty awesome.
I’m in Toronto on vacation, and the 2013 Greenbelt Harvest Picnic is happening. A few photos from yesterday’s soundcheck. I’ll have more photos from today’s show and a review in a couple of days.
As a rule, I don’t take photos of myself with other musicians. It’s a rule I’ve pretty much stuck too: I have one with Jenn Grant somewhere, but I may have actually lost it. Someone else asked me to take that.
This one’s all mine though: I interviewed Daniel Lanois last week and he was at the Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival, so here it is. I’ll post the articles I’ve written here in a little bit: they’re elsewhere right now, and I’m very tired after a late night’s long drive.
I’ll get a full review of that Salmon Arm set up too, but my one line twitter review is already up.
So the week that was has passed and it’s been an interesting one. In addition to the normal busy work week—which this week included some root level Unix system configuration that I haven’t done in a very long time—I’ve been getting ready for an end of summer busy music season. Next weekend is the Salmon Arm Roots & Blues festival which I’m covering. It looks like a good one, and I can’t wait for it.
At the end of the summer I’m heading to Ontario to visit my newborn (and first) niece for the first time. She was born at the end of April, and I’m looking forward to that visit more than anything you can imagine.
I’m also stopping by the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic while I’m there, and in the lead up to that I’m writing an article about the festival that’s now in its third year. This means that in the last week I’ve had conversations with Daniel Lanois, Emmylou Harris and Pegi Young who are all playing the festival.
So that’s been nice and a real treat. They’ve all be lovely folks, and my Friday—they day I chatted with Lanois—was an absolutely inspirational day. We chatted for a while, and it was great. He’s a fascinating, open, affable, and very self-assured man.
That day ended as well as it started with an early evening visit to the stage at the bottom of the hill I live on where some music was happening. I sat with my bike near the front of the stage to listen and a few minutes later a little visitor dropped by—she was about a year old and walked right over to me where I was sitting and crawled into my lap before reaching up and put her arms around my neck. It was just about the sweetest moment I’ve ever had, and it was the absolute perfect way to end a perfect day. Her mother came by after not too long and my visitor disappeared, but that minute of cuddling was just about the sweetest I’ve ever had.
I’m looking forward to meeting this little far away niece, and hopefully there’ll be some moments like that on that trip because I love them so much and I don’t get enough of them anymore in my life.