a chalk mark on the ground…


Sometimes you just have to get down and dirty to cleanse the palate or mind of the shit that is spewing forth.

Dan Stuart and Chuck Prophet were in the grip of some serious problems when Al Kooper took a deep breath and decided to produce Scapegoats. At the time Green on Red IMG_3297.JPGwas just Chuck and Dan, the other members of the band over the years had been shed as things got harder and darker and more dangerous.

It’s an album that keep it light for the first two songs and then heads for the gutter. It’s the type of alcohol and drug fueled honky tonk boogie woogie music the great Orangoutang in charge never got with. The world may be a better place if the chief hunchmeister had hefted a six pack of Miller Lite and got down and dirty with Chuck and Dan.

So take a deep breath and head into the hinterlands of Chuck and Dans dark world of roosters, guns, graveyards, tears and dying lovers. There are tender moments here, and deep down you truly understand that when things are good that is the moment they will inevitably get darker. That love story will end up with the lover cleaning vomit and blood off the bathroom tiles eventually.

This is simultaneously a terrifying and comfortable record. It has the country vibe that is so familiar however the lyrics are dark, at times making Tonights the Night sound like nursery rhymes. This is a disquieting record, it’ll keep you awake at night, it’s drive you to play it again and live with it daily, it is cautionary and deep down we all wanted that rock and roll life.

All the way through it is Al Koopers organ holding things together as the main protagonists whirl out of control.

Baby loves her gun
for a little fun
she likes to drive nude at night,
shootin’ out street lights
baby loves her gun
It’s just a little one



always the same…

Three unfinished posts, they kind of went this way:

Oh god the coronavirus, idiots in charge, people dying unnecessarily, orange nemesis etc.

My son pointed out I am managing to stay in my echo chamber. I tried watching One America Network and it made me angry. I watched Fox and well  that’s another thing. I watched CNN and yes I am not alone.

The biggest problem however has been the lack of yeast for making bread. I am not sure why making bread is so important in these days of the Covid-19. Maybe it’s to do with being able to do something for myself, being somewhat self sufficient, or the mere physical act of baking helped. For three weeks we have searched out the elusive yeast in supermarkets and other places and couldn’t find any. I am sure this is an intrinsically 1st world problem when confronted with the dreaded virus. I fought the urge to make a starter/levain/poolish or whatever you call it. Basically, water flour and wild yeast that hangs out all over the place. It just seems a little too hipster.

In the end however the deep desire for pizza won out and we began the starter three days ago. You have to name your starter and ours is called Daevid, you have to sing to it so we sing Gong.


Day 1 nothing exciting here just a mess in the bottom of a mason jar, I tried to avoid the hipster glass of choice but it was all we had.


Day 2 something living in there, hubba bubba bread company.


Still day 2 and things are getting out of control so we made pizza dough.


We fed Daevid again and he keeps producing the magical starter with is Radio Gnome friend. I am concerned things will overflow pretty soon.


This is the end of day 2. I am not sure where we go from here, looks like we will run out of flour now rather than yeast. Tomorrow we make sourdough rolls, its quite exciting really, I am also making a starter bed to get the garden going and we will rototill our garden space and then fence the critters out. Too many projects and not enough time.

Musically its been like this:

IMG_3260IMG_3261IMG_3275IMG_3279 2IMG_3282IMG_3288IMG_3289

Yeah I know there is more that could/should be said about all of them.

As I looked through my weirdly and badly curated archive here I realized that one of the first books I talked about when nine years or so ago I started all this blogging shit was George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides, which is somewhat disconcerting. As part of this Covid thing I kind of though about organizing this place a bit, then I wondered why, it’s really here to amuse me and maybe some other people occasionally.

For those that are interested my youngest son survived the Covid-19 and is well, we continued to work on his new living space this weekend.


The masks are for the fiberglass, it’s impossible to buy safety equipment these days so there was a need to improvise. Yes that is a fashion statement mud boots and pajamas, what every quarantiner is wearing these days.

Oh well thanks for bearing with me, the next post will involve tractors, rototillers, brush hog repair and maybe some yakking about music.

Until then here is Syd contemplating whatever goes through that head of his:


he’s as blind as he can be…

There once was a magic moment when the early sixties had not changed into the later sixties and all the hedonism and smelliness of hippiedom had not manifested.

I remember somewhere in first, second or third year secondary school getting into a stand up shouting argument with Galvin that The Beatles were not stinky hippies like the Byrds. Both these bands had not been around for a reasonable amount of time, For one of them at least eight years, I think the Byrds hung on for longer. The argument was so intense we ended up in weekend detention where we both discovered The Clash provided through a cassette Galvin’s brother had given him. It was 1978 after all and we were a little behind the times on some level.

IMG_3217.JPGMy major argument in defending The Beatles was based on Rubber Soul managing to be both psychedelic and a great pop record. I don’t remember the argument but I damn well stand by it.

At some point in the next year or two it became impossible to admit in public a love for The Beatles. They were not hip anymore according to the the late 70’s early 80’s influencers of Kerrang, NME Melody Maker and Sounds. They had become less than influential. Punk and glum men form Manchester were in, paisley was out and long overcoats and floppy unkempt hair were all the go, along with patched denim and skin tight jeans depending on were your loyalties lay.

I am also sure that some of this denial was based on the search for a date, girls were not we were all sure into digging into musical history. I am sure this bias caused many a promising date to be missed as well.

Rubber Soul was my mums favorite Beatles album, she never explained why but she could sing every word without the record playing as she ironed or cooked dinner. I think it was something to do with being the end of a Beatles era. She had seen them at The Cavern, in New Brighton, all over town she said. They were her youth, her and my dad were however too settled to follow them past Rubber Soul seriously. 1965 was the last year they didn’t have a child. I am sure by the time Revolver came along they were too busy working and figuring out how to raise me. Rubber Soul therefore become my mums last Beatles album she bought and heard when it came out. It was the end of the Beatles in her record collection as well apart from the Red and Blue albums, she had every album and single up to that point, after that she was content with the collections.

Rubber Soul for me therefore is the album when The Beatles went on to transform music in some way, leaving my parents behind to raise a child and work. It’s a divergence, of course great things were to come.

For me it is also how I discovered The Clash and their ilk. At times had to keep my love for punk secret as it did not go with my NWOBHM pals.

“Im looking through you, you’re not the same.”


and I pause for awhile…

It must be Easter, I am sat here in the yard playing Pink Floyd’s Meddle. This album is inextricably connected to Easter for me.

I am not sure how this happened, but it did and so for the last forty years or so I have sat down and played Meddle, most often in the back yard. In the early days of this ritual I would place my speakers out of the window, these days I use bluetooth headphones and stream the album, today however I did this and in the evening played the record in all its stereo glory. Twice in one day without a blink. I also noticed I have two copies of the album, interesting. I can in miming count 15 copies of this album on various media have passed through my hands.

I could tell you how great an album it is from start to finish.

I could wax lyrical about its  connections to Easter for me. I could come up with some weird strange reason, first time I dropped acid, falling in love, first solo vacation or something more exciting.


The mundane truth is that Meddle is the third Pink Floyd album I heard. I borrowed it from the library during the Easter holidays and played it incessantly, enough to the point my dad would leave the room when it came on. It at some point became attached to that feeling of Spring, cold mornings and warm balmy afternoons, daffodils and birdsong.

It is an album that because of its associations for me has become a fixture in my listening habits. It is an album you can get lost in and if it wasn’t for Seamus it would be just about as perfect an album as you could get. It sits in that happy period right before Floyd exploded into the consciousness of the world. It is an innocent album, lazy, lolling, a hippy spring before the turmoil to begin.

So while Cody napped and everyone else took the chance to do something useful, me and Syd the dog sat out in the sun, he chased balls and lay in the creek to cool off and I listened to Meddle.


It’s been a funny old Easter, we had no eggs, chocolate or otherwise. My mum however did put on her new dress to FaceTime us so that it felt special and my uncle Robert had pictures of his family taped to chairs in the yard.

Yesterday we used the last eggs to make oatmeal chocolate cookies, today we used the last of the flour and yeast to make bread to go with the spaghetti we had for Easter dinner. My middle son saved us all today by dropping off a gallon of milk and some coca-cola. He couldn’t find any toilet paper which leaves six rolls in the house for five adults and a toddler. This may become a problem eventually.

In the evening we took a stroll and observed the sunset. A relaxing none commercial Easter.


I think I need new work boots though the Converse hi-tops don’t hold up.



feel the wind blow…

Something so joyous it can take you out of the doldrums.

The best album by Dave Swarbrick, Simon Nicol, Richard Thompson, Dave Pegg and Dave Mattacks not called Full House. Bruce Rowland also comes along for the ride.


Mostly instrumental apart from the one Sandy Denny track it’s a fun album that reminds you why the Full House lineup of Fairport Convention were so good, true folk-rock, electric guitars and electric fiddles.

It’s fifty years since Full House came out, and eleven years between this album and Full House, none of that really means much apart from I will not be going to Cropredy to see the Full House lineup plus Chris Leslie perform.

Smiddyburn however completed a pretty good day today, the sun shone, the dog played, we fixed the fence, no razor wire yet, and we dug a pretty big hole and carried on the work on the new tiny home in the yard for the youngest, he is not up to helping yet as he works his way through the viral days but at least work keeps going


We will get there eventually, plenty of time for working on it as we are all home now.


It’s a shed really we call it a tiny home to make Michelle happy, it is however a very nice shed.


he has no healing formulas…

This afternoon I sat out in the shade and listened to Peter Gabriel’s Passion album. It seemed appropriate this being Good Friday and all.

It occurred to me that this has to be the least commercial Easter season in a long time. The eggs are not bought there is no chocolate as we have eaten the Peanut Butter Cups already, especially the dark chocolate ones. No gifts fripperies and other things.

My brain was in the middle east and my body the north west.

I sailed away for over an hour headphones on with Gabriel’s soundtrack in my ears and the arm breezes of spring. The dog sat at my feet and for awhile I was content.


It truly was a beautiful day.

We barbecued chicken and made potato salad and home made baked beans, quite perfect and not exactly fasting, more feasting to be honest. Like most of the staying at home there is often not much else to do than eat.

In the early evening we went for a stroll with the dog and Syd managed to strike a pose in the woods. He can be a handsome dog.


About five minutes after this he managed to sink himself into the muddy bottom of the creek and wallowed like a hippo. I drove our trails and mowed the new growth of nettles and other unpleasantness so we can get around without it being too big of a chore, then i got entailed in an old fence that was under a pile of berry bushes, leaving me crawling under the brush hog with wire clippers to free up the blades. Not so fun.

This evening I sat down with Stormcock by Roy Harper.


This is one of those albums that I consider to be as perfect as a record can get. It is an album of angry and frustrated songs as well as an epic love song. It is deeply anti-authoritarian and accusatory to both the establishment and the anti-establishment. It calls for something different, a humanism and humanity to transcend pettiness, or some other bullshit.

Harper does not give any healing formulas, he accuses and seeks the alternative. The personal responsibility and accountability that critics, politicians and religions deny. It’s a call to action and a mournful acceptance of the inadequacy of society to address that call, there is also a disdain for the hypocrisy of those that offer answers to a question that is personal.

It’s interesting to note the mistle thrush or stormcock of the title is most frequently heard singing after a storm or rainfall, not as I originally thought singing into the storm. It’s the song after the shit has gone down, a call to change.

It is as I may say the dialectic of my day, passion to pragmatism via activism, go figure.

What a lovely day
What a day to play at living
What a mess we make
What a trust we break
Not giving our wings to our children
O how we fail them
O how we nail them

the trees remain and the sun shines…


Life suddenly got real two days ago. My youngest son tested positive for the dreaded disease Covid-19. He is twenty and very likely going to be just fine in the short term, of course nobody really knows what the long term affects will be. He sits in his room playing video game with friends around the globe and his brothers, one in the next room and another finally out of his own quarantine down the road. This is the cost of working in health care these days.

His EMT teacher implied that he had to decide between his job and the class as he was constantly going back to work with infected older people. This seems both short sighted and perhaps illegal as the nursing program at the school has not put this restriction on things. More information is being sought out.

All five of us our now under some form of self imposed quarantine, there is no real advice about what we should do. Should we mask up and go to work? Should we seclude for a couple of weeks/days? There is contradictory advice from OHA, The CDC and the behemoth in chief. Liability seems to be driving the bus as always in the land of the corporation or the pushing of cures that may or may not have efficacy.

I end up every day and night doing my own health check. Do I have shortness of breath? Am I experiencing chest pain? Am I coughing? Am I well or unwell? Several times in the night I have woken sweating convinced I have it, I have to breathe and calm myself. I am fine, he is fine, we are fine.

Me and the dog went for a wander this morning after the 8a.m. meeting and before the 11a.m. We stayed where we are supposed to be, the dog did not pay attention to social distancing. The trees remain and the sun still shines.


The truth is we are  all okay and there are people who are doing much more than us, making real sacrifices, this brief annoyance is just that an annoyance. This part will end and other things will begin and we will never be the same again. Maybe we will be a ore connected caring race,

The days roll by, the zoom meetings and phone calls, endless meetings. It seems that those of us who no longer actually go to work now seem to need to meet more frequently to justify our existence. I am coming to the conclusion that I really only have a part time job, or I can do my job more efficiently in a shorter time. The meetings are an annoyance, there is no real work so we make work.

The non-profit or charitable world has essentially been ignored by the government, local and federal. The American way is to lean on charities and also let them fail as we are all ultimately supposed to be self-sufficient. All of these things have resulted in the lack of our major fundraiser happening you really want 500 people in a room right now? This means our ability to be self-sufficient is limited. We all know that the stimulus will really end up being focussed on corporations and the profit margin.

However it is the none profits who are managing to meet this challenge with consistency, calmness and empathy as our government partners flounder, bully and attempt to intimidate their way to getting their needs met. Top down example I guess.

Most of my  work is talking to people, supervising managers of social service programs,  and training people. None of this requires a whole lot of work from me right now. Yes I still meet with the people I supervise over a screen. I miss my young people who I mentor and train. I Zoom in to their meetings and they smile and wave give me virtual hugs, and we are disconnected. They are doing the work and I like the head of state at a time of crises am sequestered for their own safety under a mountain somewhere trying to figure out what is actually happening. I send them gifts and masks and chocolate and they do the work.

Our house is divided, I am at one end in my space working, my wife at the other. In the middle is my eldest son and his son playing and laughing and rolling around. In his bedroom is the youngest laughing and coughing and every now and then taking deep breaths. Hopefully all will be well and we will get through this all.

Training plans, goals, board meetings and budgets don’t seem so important right now.

For the very first time in the twenty five years I have worked for this organization this is the first time I have not been on site for a crises. I have been through snow storms, power outages that lasted weeks, landslides, trees falling, epidemics and floods. Now I am not allowed there to do the heavy lifting, collect the treats, smile and let people know up close they are doing well. I am now at that social distance dictated by exposure and age. I am essentially the risk, they are to be protected, kept safe and nurtured, the woman I have mentored to this point gets to be the strong one, the anchor, the answer and this is right. She deserved the whisky we had delivered to her house tonight.

We will get back to normal service eventually whatever that means, thanks for bearing with me.

guitar lessons for the wife…

The weekend is drawing to a close. It’s getting hard to notice are we in the week or weekend?

You can ignore the next couple of paragraphs if you like.

I have to admit that there is not much work getting done in this working from home period. I am beginning to realize that in the face of a pandemic my work is not really that important. I am as we now say non-essential. It’s strange because I used to be essential and now feel I have been downgraded on some level, no longer relevant it seems.

My youngest son went for the test this morning, Happy Sunday I suppose. I had a bit of a melt down, became irrational, angry, frustrated, pissed off. I have been avoiding the news today so I don’t have to get angry at the great orange idiot in chief as his flapping lips serve up lies and deceits and insignificant and inconsiderate platitudes, and also just so I don’t melt down at the sight of the buffoon in chief.

We now live in a world of curves and peaks and flattenings. It’s a world that seemed relevant when reading the book or watching the movie, living it however feels like an understatement. I always imagined that the authorities couldn’t really be that incompetent in real life, and lo and behold they are worse. I guess this is what the relentless willingness to be swayed by wealth has brought to our leaders. They are not leaders they are bought and owned by the money men and the brokers of power, swayed hither and thither by the lobbyists and pundits and the cash cow owners. There is ore concern for this thing called “the economy” than human life. I always Knew this but never thought I would see it acted out so transparently, they really don’t care for us.

So what’s the music of the apocalypse tonight?


Ah yes Starless and Bible Black. Nothing like King Crimson to toll the bells with. Bring out your dead into the fractured landscape created by the great deceivers.

It’s the type of music that will break your will. Leave you weeping and wailing and clawing your way out of the nightmare. Violins. viola’s, guitars basses and drums tolling the death knell.

Actually it’s incredibly beautiful, irreverent and totally unique.

Thanks for your attention if you made it to the end. It’s strange times and all we can do is do our best to make it through, take care of the at-risk, love each other and make sure we let people know they are cared for as our leaders have shown that we are pretty much on our own regardless of our offical essentialness.

get it together…

Every morning I do a little inventory of where and how I am.

Every evening I do it again in the wastelands of my imagination.

This evening the soothing panacea was John Martyn and Inside Out, my copy was apparently savaged at some time along the spine by the previous owners cat. Mercifully it left the vinyl alone.

So for 40 minutes or so I slumped into the smokey hazy slightly leaning world of John Martyn and Danny Thompson, Steve Winwood and some other members of Traffic. They were obviously off to get it together in the country again. Inside Out is a bit of a mixed bag really, it doesn’t always hold together, it seems to be on the edge of collapse at times and then falls back into the groove as if it had never been gone.

There are echoplexes, distortion and clarity. There are mumbled lyrics, clearly enunciated lyrics. Psychedelic excursion, hippy folk songs and the twisted blues of John Martyn. There are country songs and straight up traditional songs fed through a smoke haze and the whiskey soaked vocals. Sometimes all of this may be going on during the same song.

There is a refreshing willful disregard for what the audience may want, this ultimately results in exactly what this audience needs at the moment. It’s slightly disorienting and somewhat confusing. It’s punk rock jazz-folk.



If you like the spacey twiddly bits on Steve Hillage albums then it’s time to go out and get The Golden Vibe, it has all of the spacey twiddly noodly bits you may want in 70 minutes.


Its basically Steve wacked out in his room waiting for Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth to come back from sabbatical and get Gong going again. From a cassette labelled Wata Trip 1973. Now it’s not Rainbow Dome Music but it is engaging and entertaining.

It’s the noodling in the corner space monkey having a good time.

It’s also proof that I have moved on exactly one year since yesterday.

And what’s not to love about a guy who looks so happy.