Fan fueled video for X’s “I Gotta Fever”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Willie Nelson: A Black Belt in Positive Thinking

Illustration by Aline Zalko

Hard to imagine Willie Nelson is 87 years old. Amanda Petrusich conducted a splendid interview with him for The New Yorker. Here are just a few of the questions and answers I found fascinating.

You describe the Abbott United Methodist Church as the site of some of your earliest musical memories. I’m curious what you recall about the hymns that you sang there, and how performing that music made you feel?

Well, the church is still there, and me and Sister Bobbie are still a huge part of it. We bought that church a few years ago. It actually launched us. The preacher up there is a real good friend. He’s doing a good job – with this pandemic and everything, it’s hard to get a crowd together, but people still love to go to that church.

For the most part, it seems that you didn’t really see your proclivity for mischief and your religious faith to be at odds. But were there ever moments where you did feel that tension acutely?

You know, it’s funny. I have mixed emotions about it. The way I’ve made my money was playing in honky-tonks. One good example is the Night Owl, in West, Texas, north of Waco about thirty miles. It’s close to Abbott, six miles from Abbott. I grew up playing music there. I picked cotton up until I was ten or twelve years old, so to be able to make some money playing music in a beer joint – I felt pretty lucky. And the funny part of it was the people that I was singing to on Saturday nights – I was also singing to a lot of them on Sunday morning, at church. Abbott has a Methodist church, across the street is a Baptist church, across the street is a Church of Christ, down the road a little bit is the Catholic church. So we have churches all over the place – it’s impossible to live in Abbott and not go to one of those churches. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When hope and history rhyme

Whatever political party one supports, we can all share in Joe Biden’s love for Nobel Prize winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney (1939-2013). When he was young, Biden memorized poetry by William Butler Yeats and Heaney in order to help him correct his stutter.

For those who watched his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Biden quoted from Heaney’s famous poem, “The Cure at Troy.” My favorite two stanzas are marvelous.

“History says / Don’t hope on this side of the grave / But then, once in a lifetime / The longed-for tidal wave / Of justice can rise up / And hope and history rhyme.’”

“So hope for a great sea-change / On the far side of revenge. /Believe that further shore / Is reachable from here. / Believe in miracle / And cures and healing wells.”

Heaney wrote these verses in 1991 in the wake of Northern Ireland’s apocalyptic conflicts — the lengthy, bloody sectarian clashes. Here are the stanzas in their context: Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Irish Home of Biden’s Great-Great-Great Grandfather Cheers His Victory

Family and local supporters of Mr. Biden gathered in Market Square in Ballina to celebrate his victory in the presidential election. Credit: Paulo Nunes dos Santos for The New York Times

By Ed O’Loughlin, New York Times

BALLINA, Ireland — As America turned slowly blue, Ballina held its breath. Was it really possible that Joseph R. Biden Jr., considered a native son of this charming town on Ireland’s west coast — albeit five generations removed — was about to become the next American president?

It was. On Saturday, the election was called for Mr. Biden, and Ballina was ready to celebrate.

The first champagne cork was popped by Mr. Biden’s distant cousins in the town’s Market Square, watched by a few hundred delighted townspeople, two hours before CNN made the call. Someone drove up in a cherry red ’57 Buick Electra coupe with Elvis cushions in the back window. A speaker played Mr. Biden’s campaign song, Bruce Springsteen’s “We Take Care of Our Own,” and the walk-on music from former President Bill Clinton’s winning campaign, “Don’t Stop (Thinking about Tomorrow).”

Pride in Mr. Biden is strong in this town. His great-great-great grandfather Edward Blewitt was born in Ballina and emigrated to Scranton, Pa., just after the great Irish famine of 1845 to 1849, according to historians.

Now, the town can boast that it has produced not one but two presidents. Mary Robinson, the global human rights campaigner who became Ireland’s first female head of state, was born a few hundred yards from Market Square, in a house by the salmon-rich River Moy. She won election on Nov. 7, 1990 — exactly 30 years before Mr. Biden’s victory.

Read entire story HERE

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nick Cave: Negativity, cynicism and resentment will not do.

Australian rocker Nick Cave interacts with his fans via his website The Red Hand Files. “In this time of illness, cynicism and cruelty, do you receive many mean or vile messages?” asked one fan. “How do you cope with that kind of negative energy?”

Cave responded: “The letters sent to The Red Hand Files are mostly beautiful, full of love and a joy to read, but I do get the odd unkind message. Generally, though, I like them and find them weirdly energising. There is nothing quite like a good death threat in the morning to get the juices flowing.

“They are a form of validation, really, as no one with a public platform and an opinion is doing his or her job effectively if they are not being attacked from time to time.” Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sean Connery, who embodied James Bond and more, dies at 90

Sean Connery as James Bond in the 1971 film “Diamonds Are Forever.”

By Aljean Harmetz, New York Times

Sean Connery, the irascible Scot from the slums of Edinburgh who found international fame as Hollywood’s original James Bond, dismayed his fans by walking away from the Bond franchise and went on to have a long and fruitful career as a respected actor and an always bankable star, has died in Nassau, the Bahamas. He was 90.

His death, in his sleep either late Friday or early Saturday, was confirmed by his family.

“Bond, James Bond” was the character’s familiar self-introduction, and to legions of fans who have watched a parade of actors play the role — otherwise known as Agent 007 on Her Majesty’s Secret Service — none uttered the words or played the part as magnetically or as indelibly as Mr. Connery.

Tall, dark and dashing, he embodied the novelist Ian Fleming’s suave and resourceful secret agent in the first five Bond films and seven over all, vanquishing diabolical villains and voluptuous women alike beginning with “Dr. No” in 1962.

Read entire NY Times obit HERE

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jack White: Patron saint of abused buskers

By Steve Beard

Jack White is the patron saint of bruised and battered street buskers. Just ask musician Matt Grant.

On Tuesday, Grant got his guitar smashed while he was performing on the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland. “Often I don’t rise to people coming up and talking nonsense but this lady was pushing it too far. She was in my face swearing and shouting at me. I told her to go away and she wasn’t having any of it. She grabbed my guitar and smashed it over the ground,” he wrote on Instagram.

“It’s every busker’s nightmare that someone does something like that,” he told Sky News. “I felt terrible. I felt really on the ground with it. I owned that guitar for five years and it’s my tool. It was a horrible feeling seeing it smashed on the ground.”

After setting up a GoFundMe page, Grant got the surprise of a lifetime. “Incredible. Jack White from The White Stripes got in touch this morning and decided to buy me a brand new guitar,” reported Grant. “Unbelievable. From one of the worst things to happen to one of the best. Once again, thank you for everyone’s help.” Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Do Something: How one courageous woman deals with a pandemic

Mary Jo Copeland greets people Oct. 19 as they enter before breakfast at Sharing & Caring Hands, the food kitchen and charity organization that Copeland founded and runs in Minneapolis. (Jenn Ackerman for The Washington Post)

By Mary Jo Copeland, founder of Sharing & Caring Hands, a food kitchen and charity in Minneapolis. Her story, told to Eli Saslow, was published in the Washington Post.

There’s always a line. The line gets longer. I wake up at 4 in the morning to start helping these families, but this pandemic never rests. I’ve been doing this work for 40 years, and I’ve never seen pain like there is right now. People come here from all over Minnesota because they’ve lost their jobs, their homes, their savings — their dignity. They’re carrying around the hurt of what’s been done to them. They’ve got nothing but anger, sadness and fear.

I had a lady show up the other day, another first-timer. Her life was falling apart in a hundred ways, and she started going on to me about this virus and all the protests happening downtown. She was obsessing over this presidential election. She said: “I’m terrified right now. It feels like I’m watching the whole world come unglued.”

I told her: “Okay, then stop watching. What’s something you can do?”

I’ve always tried to think like that. I’m not saying I don’t have my own anxieties. I’m 78, and this virus has already set me back in a lot of ways. I’ve lost more this year than ever, but what good have negativity and fear ever done for people? Nothing. Zero. You can waste your whole life as one endless complaint. Okay, yes, this country has big problems. But who do you think is going to solve them? It’s up to us. I believe in perpetual motion. Do something. Do something! If you see something that needs to be changed, try changing it. If you see somebody who needs help, help them. People act like that’s saintly, but shouldn’t it be basic? Why isn’t it basic?

We’re a one-stop shop to help the poor. We try to give people whatever they need: food, clothes, furniture, dental, housing assistance, money to pay their bills. We’ve been open every day since this virus hit, but it seemed like the rest of the city pretty much closed. I don’t accept government funds, which means I’m free from some regulations. We were the only place left serving meals downtown. We had five or six hundred people lining up to eat, and what am I going to do? Stay at home because I’m afraid I might get sick? Send people away if they aren’t wearing a mask? Come on. These people barely had the luxury to worry about a virus. They were jobless. They were homeless. They had nothing to eat, and they weren’t getting their food stamps because the county had shut down. I promised them: “I will not close.” We served something like 8,000 meals that first week, and it’s gone on from there.

Some days, there are 200 people waiting to see me by the time I get in to work. Each one has an emergency. I open the doors and greet everyone as they come in. I ask their names and listen to their stories. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Appalled at our political choices

Got hooked on P.J. O’Rourke back in 1988 with his blistering side-splitting book Holidays in Hell about trying to find the sliver of humor in basket case foreign countries and unbearable situations. What follows is from Reason magazine about his new book on our current political environment.

“This is the end of the world for classical liberalism,” writes P.J. O’Rourke in his new collection of essays, A Cry from the Far Middle: Dispatches from a Divided Land. The 72-year-old political commentator, who cut his teeth writing for National Lampoon and is the author of Parliament of Whores and other bestsellers, is pessimistic about the future of American politics.

“I’m appalled by the choice that we’ve been delivered,” says O’Rourke, referencing the 2020 presidential election. “I am worried.”

“I have always belonged to the pessimistic wing of the libertarian attitude,” explains O’Rourke. “There are many libertarians who believe that people are ultimately rational. I am not among them. This is probably because I spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent, largely covering wars, insurrections, social upheavals, and disturbances of all sorts….We have a rational side, thank God. And I hope we are appealing to that rational side. But it isn’t the only side in our multifaceted—and sometimes pretty ugly—little personalities.” Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

White Castle slider business explodes in Arizona

By Steve Beard

One year ago, White Castle opened its first restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona. Selling more than 4.2 million sliders in the last 12 months, it has become the #1 location of the 360 White Castle restaurants in more than a dozen states. At more than 4,500 square feet, the Scottsdale Castle is the largest White Castle location on Earth.

Uniquely, the Scottsdale location also pays homage to rock musician and Arizona resident Alice Cooper, a long-time White Castle fan and a member of the “Cravers Hall of Fame,” with a large portrait of Cooper hanging in the restaurant.

The legendary shock rocker actually attended the groundbreaking for the lone Arizona location last year. “Being inducted into the ‘Cravers Hall of Fame’ will go down as one of my all-time favorite honors,” said Cooper. “They promised me a Castle close by, but I never thought they would do it! This is going to be epic.”

Raised on sliders as a young boy in Detroit, Cooper is said to have chosen tour locations based on proximity to White Castle restaurants. “It’s probably one of the most all-American things that there is, White Castles,” Cooper told reporters in 2014 at the induction ceremony while visiting the restaurant’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. “So I feel like it’s the one product that hasn’t changed over all the years. … White Castle tastes exactly the same. It’s great.” Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment