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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sharon Jones Will Save Us All

Sharon Jones is not a kid.  She is a full-grown woman, a Baby Boomer born in Augusta GA but raised in the Apple, New Yawk New Yawk. As a young person, she was obsessed with her fellow Augusta native, James Brown. She is all of five foot tall, and she is not slender, oh no.  She is a powerful small package - she blasts out the deepest soul and funk.  Her live performances are astonishing displays of energy and charisma, not to mention fabulous musicianship and professionalism.  Sharon achieves this with an instrument that isn't as polished as some soul singers - she doesn't have startling range and prettiness; just power and authenticity, which are vastly more important.  She is a legend now, but she has taken a very long road to get there.  She used to be a prison guard - Riker's Island, no less.  She also was an armored car guard for Wells Fargo Security Services.  She spent many long years trying to gain musical recognition and did sing back-up on a number of records.  It wasn't until the late 1990's that her talent and ability to front a band became apparent to the soul/funk music revival community.  Sharon's first record with the Dap-Kings was released  ten years ago. While Sharon Jones is a legend, she isn't famous.  She is known and loved by a decent fan base, but she hasn't hit the mass market.  She hasn't achieved Adele's disgusting ubiquity on the soundtrack of our popular culture, and she never will.

Now here is the thing.  For me, and I suspect for others, hearing Sharon singing over the tight, multi-racial Dap-Kings ensemble is a transforming experience.  She makes me feel that my problems can be overcome, that the unattainable is obtainable, that there will be a brighter day. This sounds ridiculous, but I feel that this type of music can save us all from the depressing aspects of human existence.   Even when Sharon is singing songs of pain and loss, I feel uplifted. Talking and writing about her music is a futile exercise; you have to hear it to understand. Just click here and listen to Sharon lay it down at this year's Bonnaroo festival..

This late 1960's/early 1970's soul/funk revival makes me happy.  I was seriously imprinted with this sound and the emotions that went into it when I was just coming into adulthood.  Tower of Power, Kool & the Gang, Sly and the Family Stone, Rufus, Cold Blood, Parliament/Funkadelic and of course the fabulous James Brown were all on my soundtrack.  They still are.  The success of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings makes me feel hopeful that this music will live on and remain fresh.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Farewell to My Cannondale H400

On Friday morning, I got up before 5AM, put on my bike riding clothes and headed out to the garage to jump on my Cannondale for an hour-long spin.  My heart sank, because the garage door was open and the Cannondale was GONE!  Gawd!

Well, it is possible that I left the garage door open, I suppose.  I am pretty careful about such things, and when I went out to walk the dog late Thursday night, I went past the garage and didn't notice that it was open.  It is also possible that a clever thief with one of those adjustable garage door openers cruised by and popped the garage door by cracking the code with his nefarious device (I have heard that this is a tool used by professional thieves).  And it is also possible that one of my garage door openers that has gone missing ended up in the hands of someone that knew which garage it could open. I will re-secure the garage, of course.

I registered the bike four years ago, so I turned the registration info and the serial number over to the police officer that came by to take the report.  It is unlikely that I will get the bike back if it was a crime of opportunity inspired by an open garage door. So I went to Bucephalus Bikes in Evanston and bought a replacement single-speed custom refurbished machine for a price equal to about 50% of what an equivalent new bike would cost. I am going to ride this for a while to see if my good old Cannondale shows up. By the way, Bucephalus Bikes and its owner, Alejandro Anon', are truly wonderful.  Alex is a trained architect who has decided leave his profession to pursue his passion for repairing and rebuilding bicycles.  He really knows bikes, that's for sure.

Material possessions really don't matter, I know.  But I was fond of the H400.  It carried me many, many miles.  When I was having a hard time, it helped me forget my problems for a while.  It was a great source of transportation, perspiration and inspiration. I owned it for almost 10 years.  It was my first "real" bike.

I would love to get the bike back, and I would love to see the thief charged, tried and convicted of his or her crime.  I would also like to be eight inches taller and 20 years younger.  The likelihood of these events occurring are about the same.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Long Hot Summer

Tomorrow is Independence Day in the US of A.  As I walked the rat dog this evening, I could hear fireworks exploding in the middle distance - a mildly disturbing imitation of a wartime mortar attack. It was 90 degrees  with 70% humidity at 9:30 in the evening.  The drought has turned all unsprinkled plants dry and dead. Electricity consumption is spiking as everyone cranks up the aircon.  I haven't felt or seem anything like this since the summer of 1988.  Coincidence - in the summer of 1988, I was finishing up a divorce from my first wife.  I also met my current wife during that heat wave.  Now, in the heat of 2012's equally long hot summer, I am in the middle of another divorce proceeding.

I hate long, hot summers.

I learned a new word today - anosognosia.  Anosognosia is a condition in which a person who is suffering from a mental illness seems unaware of his or her disability.  Unlike denial, which is a psychological defense mechanism conjured up by an individual who knows that something is wrong, anosognosia is part of the disease - a bipolar disorder sufferer or a schizophrenic can be incapable of the insight necessary to recognize that he or she is suffering from a mental illness.  Anosognosia can cause heaps of trouble for the mentally ill person and their family members.

For some reason, this heat wave and anosognosia seem to go together.   Some of us lack the insight to see that climate change is a problem, even when we are living through record-breaking heat.  This may be viewed as the "New Normal."