Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sarah Palin Educates Americans as to Realities of Turkey Slaughter

File this under Bad Ideas: For some reason Sarah Palin decided that the best place to hold a televised interview was right in front of an in-use turkey slaughtering bench. Warning: contains graphic footage of several turkeys being killed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Would Be In Exile Now, But Everywhere's the Same

Here's an oddity. One of the last songs Phil Ochs wrote was about John Train, his violent alter-ego. It seems to have been written in 1975, though it was never recorded. After allowing "John Train" to destroy his life, Ochs hanged himself in 1976.

The Ballad of John Train

Phil Ochs checked into the Chelsea Hotel,
There was blood on his clothes and they were dirty.
I could see by his face he was not feeling well,
He'd been to one too many parties.
He walked in the lobby a picture of doom,
It was plain to see he'd been a-drinkin'
I had to follow him up to his room,
To find out what he was thinking
"Train, Train, Train"
From the outlaw in his brain
But he's still the same refrain

He walked in his room and he fell on the floor
Hanging in his hangover
Now the act from the stage he plays on the street
Handing out piles of money
His audience now is the bums that he meets
Is he a phony or funny?

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Ballad of John Train

"I'd heard through channels that Ochs had only recently come off a severe and protracted manic – in fact, psychotic – episode that had lasted many months. During that time he'd changed his name to "John Train," announced that Train had murdered Phil Ochs, and threatened violence to anyone who called him by any other name but Train. At the start of this period, Train had performed a drunken, dispirited and embarrassing "Phil Ochs Farewell Performance" at Gerdes. Not long after, he opened a bar on Broome Street called Che – after the revolutionary – which quickly went bust, costing Ochs the last of his life savings. Train – Ochs's "Mr. Hyde" – did not seem to care about that, or any other misfortune that might befall the dead folksinger. The delusional Train planned myriad illusory projects. "Train [said] he was going to produce a movie version of Billy the Kid better than all the other versions combined. Elvis Presley was set to play Pat Garrett; Bobby Dylan, Billy the Kid," writes Ochs biographer Marc Eliot. In the final scene, Elvis would gun-down Dylan.

"Soon Train, penniless, was banned from the Village apartments of Ochs's old pals, including Dave Van Ronk, who thought him downright dangerous. Van Ronk was right. At one point, Train physically attacked another friend of Ochs's, Wendy Winstead. Train beat her in the head with a telephone and then picked her up and threw her against a refrigerator.

"Train spent nights sleeping in alleys and days trying to find bars where he was still welcome. He'd embarrassed himself and caused trouble in so many that doors were closed nearly everywhere. Porco would let him in, but Train – wielding a hammer – nearly ruined that when he said he'd kill the proprietor after Porco mixed a purposely light drink for the ill-tempered alcoholic.

"At one point, Jerry Rubin convinced Train to place himself in a mental hospital. Train departed the place in less than 24-hours and spent a night sleeping in the boiler room of the Chelsea Hotel. After eventually making it to L.A., Train walked around for a time in the all gold, sequined suit Ochs had worn to further outrage folkies at his electric Carnegie Hall show in March of 1970. The suit was stained with vomit. Once again, Train was homeless. He showed up at Peter Asher's house in Beverly Hills and managed to bum a hundred dollars.

"On the coast, Train continued to concoct fantasies and believe them. He told all those who would listen that he was a member of the CIA. He also said he'd recently spent a night in a Los Vegas jail-cell with Howard Hughes and the dead Bobby Kennedy. Amid this, he was planning a "Save New York City" concert that would feature not only Bobby Dylan but Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Leonard Bernstein with the New York Philharmonic – all on a marvelous rotating stage at Shea Stadium.

"Train was dead by the time Phil showed up at Porco's party. Ochs was Ochs once more. Just as pathetic, weary, overweight and ill – but Ochs, hanging with Bobby Neuwirth, David Blue, Joan Baez and Dylan – every one of them but Ochs a part of the newly formed Rolling Thunder enterprise. A film crew followed Dylan around, shooting some moments that would eventually find their way into Renaldo and Clara. I was already fairly fuzzy when I went up to Dylan. I reminded him we'd met before, and where. He said "Sure, I remember. How's Pete?" After a few words of my muddled response, Dylan patted me on the arm: "Well, alright." Then he moved on.

"Dylan and Baez launched the party with a nostalgic set: 1963 all over again. Dylan wore a large white cowboy hat. As soon as he stepped off the stage, a grinning Phil lifted the hat off Dylan's head and donned it himself. Phil wore the hat for the rest of the evening. The party went on and on, set after set, liquor flowing. Ochs didn't play until about 4 in the morning. I remember that at one point he invited Dylan to join him but Dylan, somewhat drunk himself by that time, declined. Despite being demolished, Phil turned in a pretty good performance as I recall, playing on a borrowed guitar, and talking more than singing his songs. But then I was not positioned to recall much. . .

"A few days later I was downtown once again, playing at Malachy McCourt's marvelous bar The Bells of Hell. I was not far into my set when Phil – whom I'd evidently informed of the gig, although I didn't remember doing so – wandered into the back of the room, taking me by surprise. He looked just as disheveled as he had previously, but was smiling and gave me a wave.

"Later on, after my set, we sat across the table from each other and drank. Unlike at Porco's party, where his mood had seemed good throughout the long evening, the booze this night quickly made Phil sullen and petulant. He damn near erupted into violence when a passerby happened to brush against him where he sat; and he scowled bitterly when the music and laughing in the tavern made it hard for us to hear each other. I probably would have been quite elevated, having the opportunity to get loaded with one of my heroes, except I'd by then seen just enough of Phil to realize he wasn't my hero any more. He was just a sad story. Still, I sensed that it was not his fault. A nagging whisper told me that Ochs was a victim of a beast larger than himself. Fate, I thought at the time. There but for fortune. But now, looking back, I realize it was something far more ominous than mere fate. It was biochemistry.

"Ochs complained to me that Seeger hated him, that he could no longer write songs, and that his voice was shot. He also said "the bastard John Train" had burned all of his – Ochs's – bridges, leaving him stranded and abandoned in desolate territory, with no means of escape. I told him I thought tunes like "Changes," "Miranda," "Crucifixion," "When I'm Gone," and "No More Songs" were masterpieces destined to echo for a very long time, unlike Phil's or anyone else's topical material. He told me even his best songs could not save him now, and that "No More Songs" was the truest thing he'd ever written. There would be no more songs. He'd hit an artistic brick wall. The muse had fled from him. Maybe he'd have to chase it down with a shotgun, "just like Hemingway."

"Ochs had no money. I paid for our drinks. We both put away quite a bit. We wound up closing the place. (Later on, I wondered if his appearance at my gig was just a calculated move contrived to achieve an evening of free liquor. This is possible.) Outside, I hailed a cab for the two of us. Phil directed me to a rather seedy transient hotel where he got out and said goodnight. I continued on to a friend's apartment, where I'd arranged to crash on a couch. I never saw Ochs again. He hung himself at his sister's house in Far Rockaway five months later. " - Ed Renehan

Seems like only yesterday
I climbed aboard the plane
Drinking distance in the sky,
while diving in champagne
I would be in exile now,
but everywhere's the same
Ticket home
I want a ticket home

-Phil Ochs One Way Ticket Home

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cry It Out

He used to sleep so well. He used to get drowsy, and we'd put him down, and he'd go to sleep, and that was that. Unfortunately, times appear to have changed.
Bryce now fights sleep. The instant we lay him down in his crib, he freaks out. Like I said, this didn't happen before... I can only guess that it's at least partially a result of object permanence. At any rate, we get screaming fits now when we put him down. For a while we would sit in there with him and that calmed him, but that stopped being effective after about a week.
Now, in order to get him to take a nap or go to sleep at night, we seem to be stuck with Cry-It-Out. This is something I really resisted, and I tried EVERYthing else - nursing him, rocking him, singing, car rides. In the long run I probably created more problems for him, since the "routine" changed too often.
But, now we have consistently a bath, a change to PJs, Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Bryce, and to bed! The hollering typically goes on for 20 - 45 minutes, but on bad days he can keep it up for an hour. The instant I put him down, he rolls to his tummy, gets on his hands and knees, and pulls himself up, screaming all the while. Initally we tried holding him down, but that just felt like a really bad idea, so we started to leave the room and go back every 5 minutes/10 minutes/ 15 minutes.
I feel horrible. I hate hearing him cry so much. And articles like this one don't really help me feel better about it. On the other hand, he has GOT to nap, and we have GOT to get things done around the house while he's asleep. At night, it's important for us to have some time together sans kiddo. I don't consider this selfish but necessary for our relationship.
Still, I really hope that I'm not causing any serious damage here. I guess time will tell.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hurricane Ike- Seabrook Afterward

Hurricane Ike was the third most destructive hurricane to ever hit the United States. It was the ninth named storm, fifth hurricane and third major hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season...

As I've mentioned a few times, my mother's house in Seabrook, Texas got walloped by Ike. Fortunately, she had the good sense to evacuate, and was never in any danger. However, she still had to come home to a mess of apocalyptic proportions. She and her boyfriend Mike have been working nonstop to try and get the house back to a livable condition since they returned in late September, and it's been an endless headache. She finally had a bit of time to send me some pictures detailing the damage, both to her house and the surrounding area. I'll be posting a number of them over the next week or so-

I'm going to start with some pictures of the Seabrook destruction in general. These places are all much worse off than my mother's.

seabrook house door

Not sure where this house is. Looks like nailing those boards up didn't help very much.

toddville house 2

This is a house on Toddville Road, which runs right along Galveston Bay. The houses on Toddville suffered the worst of the damage.

near asha's

Because of the danger of storm surges, almost all the houses on Toddville are on stilts. Something you may not realize when you look at this picture: A friend of my family's used to live right next door to the home shown here. Their house is now completely gone.

toddville house
Unfortunately, a house on stilts can be blown down.

broken house

Jeeze. The perils of coastal living, I guess. I certainly hope that no one was in this house when this happened.

I feel a considerable disconnect looking at these pictures. I recognize the locations, but it seems impossible that this could have happened in the town I grew up in.

Next time, I'll have a few pictures from further inland.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Nicknames for Bryce

Da Kinz

Friday, November 07, 2008

I'll Finish the Week

with another single sentence post.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

All Hail

President Black Hussein Anti-Christ!


Well, there it is, I'm doing it.

Monday, November 03, 2008