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Nostalgia ain't what it used to be

I've seen the following quote a few times on Facebook, accompanying a photo of the grizzled Mr. Abbey himself. I tried to find the book or article where he said it first, but couldn't; please forgive me for that omission.

If America could be, once again, a nation of self-reliant farmers, craftsmen, hunters, ranchers, and artists, then the rich would have little power to dominate others. Neither to serve nor rule. That was the American Dream."
—Edward Abbey
Ah yes, the ol' Jeffersonian ideal. A notion as old as America itself. I don't dispute that it sounds wonderful. It's just a fantasy, though, as much as the notion of riding tamed yet fierce dragons.

Even in Jefferson's day, there were a whole lot of citizens of this nascent republic who were not farmers, craftsmen, hunters, ranchers, and artists. They worked for people like Jefferson, either by contract or by slavery. They didn't all own their own land and make their proud independent way. Who were the rich of this era? People like ... Jefferson. I'm sure they thought themselves fundamentally different from bankers in New York and Boston, but there are many ways to become rich.

It was a simpler time in the early days. It's understandable to long for a simpler day. It's also futile. The three hundred thirty million of us could not all be self-reliant farmers, craftsmen, et al. if we all wanted to be. There's no room for that. That's not how America evolved. We have cities. We have large corporations. We make complicated things that could not have been imagined even a hundred years ago, much less at our founding. We have farming methods incredibly more efficient than they had at the turn of the 19th century, therefore far fewer people need to be farmers. We should go back to that?

I know people could quibble with every notion underlying that last paragraph. The point I'm making is, to undo all of the progress of the last two hundred thirty-odd years is impossible and undesired. Improvements can be made, certainly, but in the direction of more progress, not retreat. To long for an ideal from a bygone day does not serve us as we are dragged into the future by time itself.

This is the conversation I wish America would have with itself, not what we are forced to discuss as the 2016 presidential election draws nearer. Maybe then we could finally move past the social, economic, and political issues that should have been put to rest long ago but which keep coming up every couple of decades.

Random thoughts Friday

In the last couple of weeks, summer finally gave up its grip on the area and temperatures finally got autumnal. I have put the portable air conditioner partially away, but I haven't put the furniture back "right" in the bedroom because I do not want to tempt Mother Nature.

I turned on the furnace last night for the first time this fall, finally. The furnace did not explode and burn down the house. Does anyone else worry about this, too?

Genealogy has recaptured my attention this week. I pulled together a few old photos out of my family archives to add to Ancestry.com, like this one of my father from September 1965:
Bruce Montney, my dad, with Polaroid Land camera, Sept. "65
I'm hoping someone else finds them useful there, too. And I've been "hole-filling," by which I mean adding dates and other information on people I mostly knew about already. This is kind of addicting, even when it's for people who aren't really directly in my line of ancestry. I have not found any new step-mothers or step-grandmothers, which is somewhat comforting.

I've gotten a skosh more interested in house cleaning and projects lately, even to the point of actually doing some of it. It was wholly enjoyable to see the finished results of scrubbing the bathtub and changing out the moldy mildewed shower curtain and mat. Well, maybe that's just me. That's one of the more tangible results of not being quite so depressed lately, maybe.

I went with my sister's family on the annual apple cider mill trip last weekend. We went to a mill we'd never been to before; it was exceedingly crowded because the weather was perfect, but we had a lot of fun anyway. The kids were fun to watch as they ran around and climbed on things (there was a huge playscape), and there were no tears which is always a plus.

Finally, I came up with the brilliant idea (if I may say so) of creating a YouTube playlist of the fiddle tunes we play when I go up to Marquette in the summer. This is so I can try to get them in my head during the other fifty-one weeks of the year. If for some reason you're curious, here's the link: Fiddle Tunes at Hiawatha.

Here's hoping you all have been doing well. You're looking good!

Crossing the Little Garlic River

A day or two before the Hiawatha Music Festival this July, the Ott Lake Rambler talked me into playing our tune "Crossing the Little Garlic River" on video. I think this is take ten of twelve, but we did it. (It was pretty hot out, which helped my arthritic old guitar.)


A music post, finally

I have a show tomorrow (as in Sept. 17). I was asked to be part of a monthly singer/songwriter showcase hosted by Ron Leary, a Canadian songwriter (whose stuff is brilliant, may I add). We will be joined by another songwriter, Dave Toennies, whom I have yet to meet, and I am looking forward to doing so. It's at The Dovetail in Warren (Hoover just north of 12 Mile, look for the President Tuxedo sign) and starts at 8 p.m. We'll have a tip jar if you like us more than some of your money.

You can look up both Ron Leary and Dave Toennies on the Web and find their music. In fact, I think you should.

When I booked the show, a little over a month ago, I thought this would be the perfect reason to write a new song. That didn't happen. One can't make creativity happen ... unless, that is, one actually works at it. No, I'm not one of those who feels he needs to be kissed by the muse before he picks up a pen. I believe one needs to be available, as in already working, in case the muse drops by. I just haven't started the work yet. So tomorrow's show is going to be all old familiar songs, although I'll try to pick a couple I don't play often.

I did finally start working with my old Windows 7 laptop to try to install my recording gear and software on it. I know I've mentioned before that it's supposed to be compatible with Win7 though it wasn't compatible with my old desktop computer that runs WinXP. I've been clearing out old files first and trying to do system updates (which aren't working for some reason). Maybe this weekend I'll try to do the installation and see what happens. Recording might be fun. It might make me write more songs. Who knows?


Down with timelines

I've hit the point where I can no longer slavishly follow my Twitter and Facebook timelines. There are just too many reminders of the real world in them.

I follow no pro-GOP people or organizations (that I know of), but every anti-GOP friend posts about the latest outrageous Republican statement or action, with photographs of the perpetrators, so I cannot avoid them. I cringe whenever I see Trump's face, or McConnell's or Ryan's or Giuliani's or Christie's. It doesn't matter that they're being upbraided in the attached article. There is their image and that makes me want to scream.

There are almost no pro-Democratic messages. Certainly not any about policies.

There are too many well-meaning people — at least I think they're well-meaning — who repeat populist but wrong ideas. One of my late mother's friends reposted a graphic (they never say it in their own words) that said all fifty states should give drug tests to Welfare applicants, as if the program is even called Welfare anymore. I couldn't let this pass without a challenge; I commented that the three states that do testing test thousands and find not even a handful of positives, so it's a waste of money and demonizes the poor. After I hit "send" I thought, Well, that was pointless on my part. It's not that I'm wrong. I could find you the newspaper articles, and so could you. It's just that no one is listening. I could present counterfacts until my face turns blue, and no one wants to hear. They shrug their shoulders and believe what they want to believe.

There's too much stupidity. It's as if we celebrate stupidity, and make it up so we have something to laugh at. I don't want to see true stupidity anymore, especially stupidity where someone gets hurt. Then there's the category of what you think is stupid that probably is not. Case in point: Cargo shorts. What the hell was the casting out of the cargo shorts all about? Were these the descendants of people who in the 1930s said, "Waistcoats r dumb LOL why u wearing that"? NO, because people did not do that, and still do not have to do that.

And I'm getting tired of constant promotion. I'm looking at you, famous libertarian magicians.

And the links to clickbait articles. (10 reasons why Charlie hates timelines...click here!)

And the constant entreaties to reblog or like a cute puppy or kitten or pollywog.

So my Twitter tab is closed. (I rarely keep my FB tab open.) I'll check it later, and given that I'm slightly OCD I will look at every post since the last time I looked. But I will no longer constantly refresh the page waiting for something new and good. Not A Wolf will be there, I'm sure.
My friend and onetime collaborator Charles Sanderson (bonezman) passed away unexpectedly over the last weekend of July. Charles and I performed as a duo through much of the 1990s, and his percussion work appears on both of my CDs. He was also the percussion counterpoint to the bunch of guitarists in Big Green X. which included jjfmi. As of early this week, it was thought Charles passed from natural causes. He was 48.

Toward the end of the Big Green X period, he got very close to friends from the Michigan Renaissance Festival, and was involved in specific activities including RESCU. He also made small quantities of absinthe. (!) He also did live sound for shows including Detroit's The Dirty Show.

I don't think I ever thanked him enough for lending his talents to my music. The best I can do now is tell you all that I'm glad he did so. I, along with many others, will miss him.

I borrowed this photo from his LJ; it's from 2006, I think:

There is a GoFundMe page raising money for funeral expenses. There is also a memorial and fundraiser scheduled for Friday evening, August 12th at the Black Lotus Brewing Company in Clawson, Michigan (here's the Facebook page).
This is going to be something like a bullet list o' stuff. Great for short attention sp--SQUIRRELS!

It's too dry here. In fact, parts of Michigan, including my little part, is now listed as being in a moderate drought. (Source: https://twitter.com/NWSGrandRapids/status/751055467309391872) It does not look like we have significant rain coming to change that in the next week or so, either. I refuse to water a lawn, so my house is surrounded by spiky, brittle, brown grass. This doesn't usually happen until late August.

I just got back from visiting Dave for his birthday. Metro Louisville is NOT in a moderate drought. In fact, they'd like the rain to stop, please, make it stop so they can at least cut the jungles that used to be their lawns. We had a good time even with the rain, and we ate too much.

Later this month I'm going to the Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival in Marquette, Michigan. I don't know who the headliners are. I'll probably be playing old-timey music with my friends most of the time, anyway. I'll have to start playing guitar again, if only to toughen up my fingers for the old-timey onslaught.

At the moment, I'm trying to decide whether I can get replacement tent poles for the broken ones my existing tent has, or I'll have to buy a new tent. Part of me wants a huge tent I can stand up in. Part of me wants to be a sensible adult who really wants a camping trailer of some sort eventually (so why spend $400 on a tent when I'll spend that much for a trailer hitch, plus the camper).

In Second Life, I'm now a werewolf. Only on a part-time basis, of course. I've moved to a Medieval-themed village with some friends and we're now doing what everyone in SL does: Buying virtual stuff and decorating our virtual houses. And they say there's no future in virtual reality. Ha.
Not much news here from Songdog Radio Land. I work, I eat, I sleep. Still playing Second Life, or whatever verb is appropriate when one is connected to SL. Mow grass when I have to. Drink coffee on Saturday nights while music plays at The Dovetail. Sleep some more.

I come up with good ideas for LJ entries now and then, not that I really know what makes a good LJ entry. One thing I really don't want to write is some sort of opinion on politics or society. It's not that I don't have opinions. I have lots of opinions, many of which starting with anguished cries of frustration and anger and sorrow. But, let's face it, who am I? Why would you or anyone care? And more to the point, if I were suddenly anointed tsar and could implement what I want, who wants to take bets on when the first of the dreaded unintended consequences would rear an ugly head or three? Forget that noise. There's enough noise in the world, already.

Funny thing is, a few weeks ago, hellmutt did something on behalf of their employer on the site Medium.com, and in a fit of spontaneity, I signed up there and contributed a probably not terribly needed comment to what Mutty posted. Since then, I've occasionally thought I should try to write some kind of essay there. It seems like a sort of serious writing place and would be a good for someone who writes. Well, don't worry about being directed to a Medium link anytime soon by me, because if I can go six weeks or so between LJ posts, it appears there's not much going on in my febrile little brain. (And don't worry, I'm not all that prolific anywhere else, either.)

Well, maybe someday. Anyway, I just wanted to put something in LJ. I'm pretty much caught up on my friends' list. You folks keep having fun and writing about it. I hope to rejoin you regularly soon.

James Keelaghan - Cold Missouri Waters

This got posted to Reddit's folk subreddit today. Gawd, what a great folk song this is. kishenehn, do you know about this song?

(The visual is just the album cover, no moving pictures.)

Once a month, whether necessary or not.

Um ... Hi. It's been a while.

Did you miss much? I'm not sure. I was in Second Life most of the time. Well, technically, I spent more hours at work, as usual, but after that I spent a lot of time chasing my avatar around digital landscapes. You probably don't want to know about that, or about work either for that matter.

I went to see Dave in late March. A nice, quiet time was had once I finally made it out of Cincinnati. Dave once had a dream where he was driving a road designated I-1 ("I" for Interstate) that went from the north side of Cincinnati to a good ways down I-71 in Kentucky, bypassing the entire mess. We are still waiting for construction of this bypass to begin. In conclusion, I have very little good to say about Cincinnati. I'm sorry.

The best part was, Dave took me to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. I kept arguing over the last several years that it was too far above my raisin'. But he finally prevailed upon me, and ... the steak was divine. Truly. Mind, divinity is not cheap, but you don't do this every day. I have never, ever, had a steak that good. Oh, man.

I played a show at the Dovetail with my friend John and his fiancée Sharon early in April. They sounded very good. I sounded good when I wasn't forgetting lyrics. Sigh.

My sister had some health problems, exacerbated by a doctor who did her no good at all. She now has a different doctor, and though her problems are not gone she's much better emotionally about it, and that helps a lot. Good treatments seem to be in progress.

My nephew (not that one, the other one) had a baby. Well, his wife did. Baby's name is Lucas, which is awesome, I'm sure you'll agree.

We started to have spring, and then winter returned for around two weeks, which was a huge morale killer. They had to postpone a baseball game because of cold and the threat of snow, that's how bad it was. Spring seems to be back now, though. Fingers are crossed.

Anything else? Oh, the airplane engine that fell on my house. But I'm fine, I swear.

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