you shouldn’t take it so personal…

Here we are in our sheltered places.

I am in some sort of fog, wandering around and picking things up placing them down and moving on to the next thing. It’s sketchy, slippery difficult to grasp or understand. We started closing the gate at night, now we have a gate, not sure why but it feels better, as if we can keep contact at bay.

IMG_3087.JPGToday I ventured out to do the shopping for the week, it’s only Thursday but I couldn’t face the weekend again too many people. I wondered the empty aisles searching out basics to get through the week, for some reason I bought all the ingredients for hummus, not sure why.

There was no yeast or flour as if we are all going back to baking, the rice was gone but I got some unicorn shaped macaroni and cheese for the youngest member of the household. I have been designated the family forager, every now and then I head out to get what we need, mostly food.

My middle son is quarantined with his room mates, one of them had symptoms and was tested the other day, hopefully she is okay and they will all be fine. They are however having a great time, the never-ending game of D&D online is going on. I can hear my youngest in his room yelling down the internet to him. The other day we went over there to his house to drop some Ramen noodles off  and books, we put them on the step and backed away. He smiled and waved and grabbed the noodles and headed back in.

The eldest had some work today, he headed out with his tools and some wipes in case he had to use someone else’s tools. He managed to keep distance but tomorrow they pour concrete and he doesn’t know how that will work out. The middle son in quarantine has decided he is going to school to be a history teacher, this is a great move, he will be the cool, funny, moody teacher everyone loves. He says this has all made him realize how important history is. Strange stuff happens.

I have been working at home, doesn’t feel like work though. I Zoomed into our residential program and saw all those smiling young happy faces of the brave staff, getting up and coming to work every day. I have been searching for P.P.E. for them all day, we have no masks, no gowns and no hand sanitizer left, luckily we have no sick kids either, yet. Everything these days is followed by a big YET, it’s almost a shout of fear, anger, horror. Our state partners are not a help, in fact their insistence on carrying on as if everything is normal will end up badly.

I long for a time when I did not know what P.P.E. meant.

Tonight I sat down with Blonde on Blonde, it seemed apocalyptic enough for the evening.

Rambling, rolling, strolling and cajoling, loves songs and fury, anger and lust, humor and pain, spiritual and earthy it’s a freaking trip.

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Has there ever been an other album this extraordinary? Some of it sounds amateurish and a bit shambolic but it all makes sense, and then it ends with Sad Eyed Lady Of the Lowlands so what more do you really want?

don’t give me that do goody good bullshit…

I’ve started a few posts over the last few days and given up. This all seems a bit surreal as we move through a pandemic.

In a sense I have been preparing for this since first reading The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham as a child, a book for some reason I read every year. Of course there are as far as I can tell no poison bearing flesh eating plants roaming the earth. Instead we have the obligatory and inevitable useless governments making it worse for all of us. Over here in the good ole US of A we have a man in charge who is unable to take advice from doctors and scientists and seems intent on making decisions on instinct and hunch or the almighty dollar. He may actually be willing to sacrifice a large proportion of his citizenry for the the market, I should not be surprised I suppose.

In a world that has become one long video conference I am becoming more and more isolated in my own head and I live with five people and four generations in one home.

We have been instructed to work from home, our governor has been far too wishy washy in her approach, not surprising in a state like Oregon that’s liberal valley is surrounded by conservative ranchers and agricultural workers. Everything is a compromise to be taken or avoided.

It’s hard to work from home when you work in social services and children’s lives are at stake. It is however no longer my job to the the focal point for our residential programs, that is now someone else’s job and she is excelling. It is now my job to be a cheerleader and deliver the paychecks. I do Zoom meetings, I Zoom here and there, supporting cajoling and hoping that we can all do our jobs for long enough to get through all of this.

So what to do in the case of a pandemic.

The obvious answer is to listen to Pink Floyd.

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Now the definitive review of this has already been done. There is nothing left to add, say or do.

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I guess in case of pandemic one should revisit the classics in case it’s the last time you get to do it. So over the next few days/weeks/months thats what I am going to do, and som not so classic as well but classic for me.

Of course according to the great orange baboon the US will be open for business by Easter go figure!!!!

I’m a derelict dweller.

Well we knew it was coming and there was the usual inadequate response  from our menagerie of leaders.

Day 1 of panic stations:

It’s like being in the first five to ten minutes of one of those post apocalyptic movies. Everything is in slow motion, the discomfort and the surreal nature of the stock piling and panic buying. I passed a lady in the store today, six packages of toilet paper, six packages of paper towels and a bag of Doritos, I am not sure what is going on.

Am I supposed to be stocking up, and if so what should I get? Water? Noodles? Rice? Flour and other staples? What to do?

The other shoe will drop I am sure.

I have been feeling unwell, I am pretty sure it is not real but still.

I woke up concerned for my mum, six thousand miles away, she is aging and with Lymphoma, alone and fearful. With the travel restrictions in place I am not sure if I went to see her they would let me back. I am not ready to be an orphan and I am passed fifty. Do you take off to help the aging or stay to look after the young?

They had a news show, facts versus fear, it was sensationalist. Like the T.V. in the background of that movie, mumbling away as people attempt to go on as normal. This is where CNN has ended up, Ted Turner would be shocked I am sure. Fox is worse still no real news just opinion. We have been watching PBS and listening to NPR to try and stay aware.

It’s a little odd to be finding out about shows I would have liked to see because they are postponed, I didn’t even know Califone were in town, now they are not.

There’s going to be an outbreak of reading and talking to each other as sporting events and concerts and theater is being cancelled. If I was paranoid I may think the government are out to control us, we will see if the election is postponed!

Day 2.

Its official it’s a national emergency, and the UK may end up on the ineffectual and half thought out and ill considered travel ban. Any chance of getting back to see my mum is now lost. She is doing okay but is lonely.

The entire day has been taken up with planning for the Corona problem. Staffing, looking after clients and then the need for people to work form home. Luckily their is not much apparent sickness amongst the staff so far.

I am coming to terms with a strange fact. I may not be able to just push through this like other emergencies. If you get sick you have to stay home, can’t push through work it out or any of the other idiotic and silly ideas we have had in the past. It is also outlining the problems with the American need to work when sick.

To top it all off it’s snowing/raining and my windshield wipers have stopped working.

Day 3.

No soccer, snowing still, very weird.

We engaged in some stocking up at the grocery store, probably a bad decision for four of us to go, and made only half joking statements about buying a gun or two. The decision was pushed down the road.

Day 4.

Still thinking about the gun, been binge watching the Walking Dead and realizing how disappointingly dangerous this all is.

The president has “tremendous control of the virus” we are now officially doomed.

Figured out how to online shop in the UK for my mother, at least she will get to eat now and won’t have to go out.

It was fun watching Anthony Fauci basically contradict the president with science in front of him, oh how we howled.

Day 5.

Gun sales have increased in the USA, only in this country would we decide to do this.

Off to work  and dropped the jeep into the shop to have the windshield wipers fixed, typical jeep shit going on have to wait three days for the part, if I had done the work myself it was a two week wait for the part, go figure. The jeep however is essential for the coming apocalypse.

My mum has decided that she needs so many things, that online order is really getting out of control, she is however stocking up for something that looks like it may be a long wait indoors, I hope she can stay healthy.

The Great Orange one has finally come to some sort of realization of the shit show, no longer is he in control but he is also not accepting any responsibility for the mismanagement of a crisis.. Let’s face it he usually gets to lie and run away from responsibility, history will not view this man well.

I have been binge watching the Walking Dead, well an episode a night is not a binge but it has dug into my listening time. So tonight’s fun is this German compilation of The Hawkwind Collection with some dodgy and odd versions of Hawkwind classics. Lets face it all of the songs are here but they are never the versions you want, sometimes abridged, other times just pointless, released in 1986 it manages to encapsulate everything bad about Hawkwind collections from the eighties. However I have to admit I got a little excited when I found it as it took me back to those original days of buying Hawkwind vinyl, then as I played it this evening I was reminded of the huge disappointment buying Hawkwind vinyl could be in the eighties. The best things about this album are Dealing With the Devil and Bring It On Home. I also like the frantic version of Urban Guerilla as well.

As you can see it also has  one of the worst album covers ever.

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when the sun shines…

I bought this album for one song.

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Yes obviously there are other great songs on this like well all of them not to put it too lightly. It was 99c and a little crackly but that adds to the charm I am sure you will agree. Even Lady Madonna is good.

Rain by the Beatles is one of the greatest moments in psychedelic music on any continent. There is backward stuff, snappy snare drums, wacky lyrics and nasally vocals, it’s a fun filled ode to rain.

I have nothing more to say than it is almost as essential as Tomorrow Never Knows in the world of perfect psychedelia.

I was young on this mountain but now I am old…

In a world of change it’s good to know there was one guy from Arkansa keeping the beat. There was one man telling the stories of the working man and woman, songs of tractors and mining and logging and the men and women scratching a living out of the earth.

Of course that guy at one point was a coked out rock star living the high life and heading for disaster as fast as he could. He survived the rock and roll lifestyle a back stabbing songwriting pal and cancer to scratch his own little bit of sanity in Woodstock New York. He was also smart enough not to go on the road with Dylan as he took his electric band out. His rambles were legendary and the artists that turned up to play and support him through his illness were some of the back bone of American roots music.

IMG_2988.JPGWith a new documentary coming out about The Band, and well, Robbie Robertson and the band I thought it was time to remind myself how great Leon Helm’s album Dirt Farmer was and is. Songs of honest work, degradation, poverty, love and tractors, what more could  a lover of music need. There are mandolins, fiddles, and damn that Levon Helm drumming, always on the one and rocking and reeling as you may need. Watching Levon Helm sing was an experience, he always seemed to be living and feeling every word and thought he was singing about.

Dirt Farmer is an homage to the American mid-west farmers without being sentimental, its full of honest songs about a way of life that was disappearing when the album came out and is now almost extinct as corporations take over food production and farmers become producers and families no longer work the land together, of course thats a fantasy either way you see it. It’s also probably the best solo album from a former member of The Band.

he’s got problems…

In preparation for the future work on our property I have been binge watching Homestead Rescue so that I can prepare for all eventualities and feel like I have the requisite skills. It seems that what is necessary is a chainsaw and an excess of confidence. I have at least one of these and will work on the other.

1537 mentioned Marillion as he disemboweled Genesis’ Wind and Wuthering. To be fair it is a bit of a mixed bag of an album.

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My association with Marillion began under duress and complaint, Andy and Gooey claimed they were the best band ever!!!! Exclamation marks deliberate. I was more concerned they were Genesis lite, which at the time was a damning comment and unsupported by Genesis own musical output at the time which I considered secretly to be a bit insipid starting with Wind and Wuthering there had been a steady decline in the Prog dimensions of the band.

I was  dragged along to every Marillion gig that happened within 50 miles of Liverpool, or bus and train distance. By count we managed to trek out and see Marillion something like 13 times between Manchester and Liverpool and at two festivals. Between 1982 and 88, this has only been beaten by Hawkwind or Fairport Convention in the addled gig memories of my brain, the internet helped with the keeping count I have to admit as Gooey’s iron clad memory was challenged when asked for a count. He claimed the recreational aspects of the gigs had caused a deterioration in his capacity to remember. I have also managed to see them twice with Hogarth in the band, taking the count even higher. So thats somewhere like 17 times total.

All this for a band I claimed I didn’t particularly like, even at the reduced concert ticket prices of the time this was a significant investment in time and money. Truth is and now I can admit it I really did enjoy Marillion a lot. Also as they had hit singles it was fairly common for girls to be present at these gigs along with the sweaty denim clad faithful. It was also possible to be a bit of an annoying tosser at gigs by claiming that they had not been the same since they dropped Grendel from the setlist and remember the days when Market Square Heroes meant something man? The perfect band for a teen, early 20’s chap, enough popularity for the fairer sex and just about esoteric enough to allow a truly pretentious sneer every now and then.

I am going to admit though that I have struggled with the changes the Hogarth years have brought, although Fuck Everything And Run is possibly the greatest album title of all time. It’s also perhaps the best album to my ears of the Hogarth years.

So Marillion for me are the Warehouse or the Royal Court too many drunken young men and bemused young women. All jumping and clapping and shouting in unison, actually a pretty good experience all in all. So when faced with this type of memory what does a 50 something music fan do? Well you start searching fo records desperately scouring records stores and ultimately resorting to online shopping to assuage a need fortunately for immediate gratification I already had this one sitting on a shelf.

 

I’m still alive…

Neo-Prog, that strange 80’s accumulation of sweaty earnest young middle class men working on being the next Yes or Genesis. The benchmark was Marillion I guess. They had made it big with their Genesis reminiscent music, slightly more forward guitars and piscine front man. Then there were the also rans, Twelfth Night, Pendragon, I.Q., Solstice and I am sure a host of others clamoring for attention in their music of choice, makeup, dramatic gestures and frantic keyboard and guitar solos over strange and obscure time signatures.

Of course prog had never gone away, The Stranglers had it going on as did Magazine, IMG_2986Japan at times and don’t tell me Peter Hamill vocal style didn’t inspire a host of punk wannabes over time. The monsters of prog were all trying to be hip and have hit records leaving a host of makeup encrusted upstarts to dress up like their heroes and prance the light fantastic at the Marquee and a thousand clubs and concert halls around the U.K.

Apparently this neo-prog genre was something I was drawn to considering the accumulation of records I apparently still have managed to keep a hold of.

IMG_2985.jpgSo to I.Q. and their first album Tales From the Lush Attic. Released the same year as Marillion’s Script for a Jesters Tear I bet it is a largely unremembered apart from a  group of now middle aged men who are a still enjoying the daft time signatures and wacky solos. It actually holds up better than the Marillion album, Peter Nicholls pulls off the Gabriel alike vocals and the keyboards and guitars are sufficiently frenetic to entertain. It’s a bit poppy a bit punk it’s not too serious either, no dystopian tales as far as I can tell but the songs do tend to the sixth form poetry end of melancholy. They all look like such nice boys, dodgy haircuts makeup and some sweet braces there, and remember the 80’s penchant for pushing the suit jacket sleeves up to get that Miami Vice look down. I bet there is a pair of espadrilles on someones feet here.

Everything you want for your prog fix is here, mellotrons, 12 string guitars and songs with at least 16 time signatures squeezed in. The guitars are a bit meatier than your average prog band unless they are called King Crimson. I.Q. manage to prog out without being too mathy in their approach if thats even a word. The artwork is also fun for a first release.