Thursday, May 19, 2005

Looking for Harry Belafonte

These are crazy days. The Nest is occupied. One of the Filthies has lost his mind, while the other one is pushing full steam ahead on destroying what’s left of his.
I’ve endured several hair interventions lately, as well as a couple dealing with problems of a more existential nature.
I had a dream the other night that I finally submitted to a haircut, only to have the friend who offered styling help leave halfway through the job to write a paper for school. It’s alright, I told everybody at the bar, I’m getting the haircut finished tomorrow.
I’m testing my research skills out with the King County Superior Court, re-emergences are everywhere and tomorrow it’ll be 100 degrees in the Ol’ Pueblo.
The other night, Mr. Chair told me about how it was funny we couldn’t find Harry Belafonte the previous evening. What? I didn’t remember looking for Harry Belafonte. We both knew we were talking about a cd, but the General was far more confused, wondering why we had been searching the house for an elderly black man.
But I didn’t remember looking for Harry Belafonte. Turns out Chair dreamed it. Just ponder for a moment what that dream really means.

Whirlwind & Refuge

Here's the new mix:

Whirlwind & Refuge

Okkervil River – For Real
Clem Snide – End of Love
Crooked Fingers – Big Darkness
Mike Doughty – Long Black American Car
Wilco – Not for the Season
Bruce Springsteen – Long Time Comin’
Paul Westerberg – As Far as I Know
Drakes – Bunny
Neko Case – The Virginian
Flatlanders – Tonight I’m Gonna Go Downtown
Bob Dylan – I Shall Be Released
Richard Buckner – Straight
My Morning Jacket – Mahgeetah
Sun Kil Moon – Carry Me Ohio
Thrills – Santa Cruz
Bright Eyes – At the Bottom of Everything
Superchunk – Shallow End
Mathematicians – Subtract My Life

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Three years ago, I took in a lost soul. An old Little League buddy turned spiritual advisor walked through tragedy and turmoil back to the desert. The desert welcomed him readily, eventually giving him a gorgeous blonde and a healer’s job. And I gave him my couch. So began the 505’s endeavor to become Zion, a Refuge for the weary and heartbroken, the contrite and perhaps even the prodigal.
In the hierarchy of karma, running a Refuge must at least place a person at the lieutenant level. Comfort, ears, beers and a place to toss a suitcase are what I have to give. And not everybody will, I’m sure. But anyone who is in my vast and intricate memory of great days and notable experiences is guaranteed at least as much.
After housing Freaktown for several months, I hit the road, bunking on couches, floors and actual guest beds for more than two months. My hair grew long and my beard reached what most thought was an uncouth shagginess, what I saw as a symbol of complete freedom.
I embraced the West, as much of it as I could, sharing late nights with old friends and strong drink. Along the way I read Lord of the Rings, and began thinking of myself and my journey in Middle Earth terms. I was a traveler from the Great Southern Desert, on my way north to kin and allies, defeating peril along the way.
I had nearly entire days of open highway, on winding roads through ancient mythical forests (the Redwoods) and wide Interstates across vast wastelands (that part would be Wyoming). I slept in great cities, walked great streets through tall buildings and absorbed more of the world in a shorter time than I’d ever before or since.
And now, I’m again running a Refuge, in the same place. Tragedy and heartbreak has sent one and soon another of my best friends couch-ward. I’m grateful for the company, glad to offer the shelter and broken to pieces at its necessity.
But Refuge is part of life, sometimes a large part, sometimes as big a part as Adventure, Achievement and Love.
My guests have lives with no maps, and theirs is a perspective that is oddly compelling. In no way do they measure future in 40-hour blocks and they do not need to change out of work clothes at any point in the day. Their minds are solving problems, large great ones that despite the pain open doors all over, strange magical doors in places nobody has ever thought of as a way to go.


Out-of-town work excursions should always be so damn awesome. Last Tuesday I jetted to the Unholy Valley of the Sun, met up with the Factor and jetted for the scuzziest nightlife we could find in a strip mall.
Wednesday after working I hit the road for the Great North to see Wilco at Flagstaff’s Orpheum, a make up for the previous year’s rehab-based cancellation. (It’s more than a minor sore point that another of last year’s rehab-cancelled shows at our fair Rialto was not also rescheduled.)
I met up with Stu LeBlanc and the Short People at Flag Brew for dinner and then into line, where Stu told of strange end-of-days prophesy and mentioned something about 90 percent of the universe’s matter being mission.
The show was incredible, as were the two I caught in November. For having gone more than seven years since the first time I saw Wilco, I sure as hell made up some shows in a hurry.
I’ll reiterate now the fact that Wilco is without question the best band playing these days, both in terms of studio records, live shows and general commitment to the independent spirit and power of rock ‘n’ roll. Each album is awesome, each in its own sense groundbreaking and I’m sure they’ll continue putting out quality material if for no other reason than Jeff Tweedy’s writing just keeps getting better.
The show leaned heavy on The Ghost is Born and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but we got a treat of two Mermaid Avenue 2 songs. Tweedy seemed a bit peeved, hurling his guitar at an amp before one encore and he appeared to steal someone’s camera. It kinda upset me that people kept taking flash pictures during the show, despite firm warning against such practice at the door and somewhat diligent security. I had my digicam in my pocked by forgetfulness more than anything, but didn’t touch it. I’d never flash a band and I know the quality of low light photography anyway. But Tweedy appeared to lean forward and motion for some front row person’s camera, and I swear I saw him walk off stage with it. Anyway.
Back to the Valley and the hospitality of the Factor and one down to Tempe Thursday morn.
Afterwards, I reassembled the Factor, the Short People and threw in Mr. Chair and we crossed the River to the Marquee, to see Calexico and Neko Case. Incredible once again. Neko Case blew me away with singing and hotness and Calexico brought out the full mariachi band, which I hadn’t seen in ages. If Wilco is the best band playing these days, Calexico is an infinitely close second, again in terms of both recordings and live performances. And Calexico has the oddly additive quality of being more or less a studio backing band as well. They do make everybody better, including Neko Case.
Another brilliant night, then back to sleep, back to Tempe, then back to Tucson to finish up the week’s work.
And what did Friday hold? Only the SICK Festival (Southwestern Intergalactic Comedy Kermis). The Secret Show opened with a short but really good set, Darwin disappointed, New Kevin was super wacky, Comedy Corner had a great Hell-themed cycle of sketches that included the grossest Scooby Dooby joke I’ve ever heard, and Demitri Martin had so many damn jokes I keep remembering them one by one ever since.
Only two frustrating text messages marred the night, which continued after the festival with the usual party and eventually I concluded what had turned into a rather confusing 22-hour day.
Not to be outdone, Saturday continued rocking. Caught the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, then went Downtown for a Secret Show special, which concluded with a bit about alligators I so helpfully suggested.
Then back to the house for a great party – friends from long ago, bellies full of laughs and a groundbreaking adventure for at least one of the housemates.
On top of everything, over the last few days I’ve spoken to two long-lost friends and seem to be parting ways with other company.
And talking in vague terms. A lot.


Steve Earle
Okkervil River
Robyn Hitchcock
Social Distortion
M Ward
Clem Snide
Crooked Fingers
Neko Case

And several nights of amazing local music – all since February.