Saturday, August 11, 2007

Mawidge Is What Bwings Us Togewer Today

I now pronounce you rehearsal man and rehearsal wife.

Karen and Bruce
Wedding Rehearsal
The Rock
August 10, 2007


On, what might possibly be, the most beautiful day (and, the day after the day shown in the picture above) this Summer, our friends Karen and Bruce are getting married. I just packed G off for a day full of pre-wedding primping, and will probably not see her again until the wedding (That is, of course, unless I have to do anymore taxiing of guests today).

It is truly a great day for, well, a White Wedding.


Perfect Day
(Buy: Lou Reed: Trainspotting [Original Soundtrack])

White Wedding
(Buy: Whip: P:ear: Bridging the Distance)

The Great Intoxication
(Buy: David Byrne: Look Into The Eyeball)


(You can, and should, read more about the p:ear organization, and their goal of building positive relationships with homeless and transitional youth, on their website.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

No, Not Harry! That Other, Amazing Potter (You Know, Sparky's Kid!)

The Bicentennial, baby! Let your giant freak flag fly!

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
Connecting Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn and Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island
Photograph via Forgotten NY
June 28, 1976


Enough Harry Potter already!

I met Grace Potter when she was maybe 6 or 7 years old (some 16 years ago, or so), during a visit to her father, Sparky Potter's workshop (and home) nestled on a mountainside near Mad River Glen (where snowboarders, like myself, dare never tread), in a bucolic little town in Vermont.

A trip to Sparky's mountainside retreat was like taking a walk through the Shire, an experience only (much) later envisioned on the big screen in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy (I kid you not, it had that same magical feeling!). A walk amongst the buildings and out-buildings of the Potter compound afforded you glimpses of signs in various stages of completion, Sparky's wife Peggy's hand-painted wooden bowls, in a rainbow of colors and stages of finish, drying on outdoor shelves, and the sense that you were in a place of complete creativity. Sparky was, and still is, one of the finest craftsman (and signmaker) I have ever had the opportunity to work with. He is damn funny to boot (and, has a personality and openness that is immediately infectious).

I had the chance to stop by Sparky's shop again while traveling through that little town a few years ago. Having changed very little (other then now having his shop away from the house, and a little (16 years, in fact) older, as I had become) over the years. He remembered me immediately (apparently, neither of us had changed that much), and gladly took me on a tour through his new workspace, once again, filled with colorful and creative projects in various stages of completion. At the end of the tour, he excitingly handed me a CD. "This is my daughter Grace's band," he exclaimed with a proud exuberance, "Enjoy," he said.

We shook hands, and said our goodbyes. With a warm feeling in my heart, and a copy of "Original Soul" in my hands, I walked to my car, and left.

Every time I hear a Grace Potter song now, I think of Sparky, too. And smile.


Well, on the day after her third release, This Is Somewhere, I took the opportunity to visit her website, where I read this explanation about the cover images of the CD, from her recollections of the photographic archives of her father.

The front and back cover images are taken from a photographic document of the mounting of the largest American flag ever made up to that time; it was hung on New York’s Verrazano Bridge to commemorate America’s Bicentennial in 1976. The photos were shot by Dream On Productions, an art collective founded by Grace’s father, Sparky Potter, and commissioned by New York advertising executive turned flag-obsessed Vermonter Len Silverfine, who came up with the idea and secured the involvement of the city and state of New York. Silverfine had the flag assembled by a sailmaking company in Marblehead, Mass., and, two days before the Bicentennial, it was unfurled from the side of the bridge in a dress rehearsal. Hanging from the arching steel structure, the huge flag looked “magnificent—a real show-stopper,” Sparky recalls. But then the wind unexpectedly picked up, causing the flag to billow dramatically. Realizing that the heavy, wind-whipped flag could very possibly tax the structure of the bridge, the engineers on hand called for it to be taken down, and Sparky was one of the five crew members who held onto a halyard in an attempt to pull back one of its corners.

“The wind was so strong that it lifted me several feet in the air,” he says. “Because of the force of it, we were dangling like little rag dolls until the wind eased up. From that point on, the flag just kept continually ripping, but it must’ve been a six-hour process before it got to a manageable point, where people could actually cut the sections and take it apart.” As the effort continued, shutters snapped, resulting in some truly memorable images. “For those of us who were on the bridge, it was the most dramatic sculpture you could imagine,” says Sparky. “From looking at the flag through my lens, it became more and more of a piece of art as it fell apart.” And now, 31 years later, those images have become a metaphor for the state of the nation as observed so insightfully by Grace in the songs of This Is Somewhere.

“It’s an amazing piece of Americana,” says Sparky, “and it probably would’ve stayed stashed away in the closet if Gracie hadn’t had a momentary flash about some slides of an American flag that she remembered from her childhood.”

Then, I came across this:

"On June 28, 1976 the largest American flag in the world was placed on the Verrazano. It lasted a few minutes before winds tore it apart. (Technology wasn't quite as advanced then). Since then a bigger flag was produced in Thailand, but we're told an even larger flag was produced in the USA. Help me out, Forgotten fans!"
From a recollection of that same event, 31 years ago, via Forgotten NY

(Ah, synchronicity! Don't you just love when those things happen.)

And now, for your enjoyment, as well as mine, some music by the amazing Grace Potter.


No Good, Mean Old, Lowdown Lover Man
(Buy: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals: Original Soul)

Nothing But The Water (II)
(Buy: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals: Nothing But The Water)

Here's a live version of that same song, and, I believe, the reason for the band's popularity. (Their live performances, I meant, if you didn't know what I meant. Or, maybe it's that bitchin' Hammond. Or, Grace's voice. Or, maybe it's just because that the damn band rocks it live!)

Nothing But The Water (LIVE)
(June s, 2006 at World Cafe Live!, Philadelphia (NPR))

Here's To The Meantime
(Buy: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals: This Is Somewhere)


And, here's one for those bicentennial flag "supporters" on that windy little day in June.

Don't Pull It Down
(Buy: Various Artists from Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical: Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical [Original Broadway Cast])

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Did I Ever Tell You, You're A Zero (Or, I See Dead Drunk People)

A rogues gallery of, well, rogues.

One (Too Many) Bourbon + One (Too Many) Scotch + One (Too Many) Beer
American (and an Aussie) Idols
Making Us Proud


"Hey! See that guy over there? Follow him when he gets in his truck," G says, as I watch the tall, lanky kid step into his ride. As he drives away, another truck pulls up behind him and follows him out of the parking lot. We follow them.

"That guy totally just bought alcohol for the kid in the truck behind him," G explains, "I want to see the hand-off." G is excited that she spotted this little interaction.

We are tailing the two trucks, hanging back with discreet, spy-like skill (No doubt honed from some lame "Murder She Wrote" episode, where Angela Lansbury (G) and Tom Bosley (me) pursue, at 15 miles an hour, a geriatric lawbreaker.)

The trucks pull into a dirt parking lot, only about a quarter mile from where they started (and still, mind you, in pretty public view). The "legal" (if you can call buying liquor for minors legal) buyer pulls in first, the younger "illegal" (yes, minor) pulls his truck around so that they are window to window (Because, we are transacting illegal business here, so why try to look any more indiscreet?). The elder (by only 5 years or so) hands off the package, and pulls away fast, in a flurry of gravel and dust (because, were still not drawing attention to ourselves yet). The minor, sauce in hand, pulls out slower.

"That was so cool," exclaims G.

"Yeah," I respond.

Fortunately, the night goes by without any incidents or accidents on The Rock.

But, two days later, the someone driving a truck, hits a telephone poll (Not the minor above, but a legal drinker, and, not an uncommon occurrence out here on the island), and is airlifted (by plane) off The Rock.

Two days later — while drinking in the local (only) bar on the island — we overhear somebody telling of that accident (his girlfriend, who is sitting right next to him, drinking). He is drunk.

They get home safe that night.

Three days later, a drunk somebody runs his truck into an abandoned trailer home. Plane, hospital, broken bones, and he returns to the island.

It will happen again (and, again) out here. Until somebody dies.

And then, it will happen again.

(Please, drink wisely. And don't, for phuck sake, drive! Really, I don't care if you hurt yourself, but, there are 1,200 others out here who prefer not to go down with you.)


It Was A Very Good Beer
(Buy: The Simpsons: The Simpsons: Songs In The Key Of Springfield [Original Music From The Television Series])

Ballantine Beer
(Ballantine Beer Orchestra))

Beer Beer Bottla Beer
(Download: A. C. Ducey: Thurl Festival! (At WFMU: Beware the Blog)

Beer Run
(Buy: Todd Snider: Near Truths and Hotel Rooms Live [LIVE])

All for Me Grog
(Buy: Dan Zanes: Sea Music)

(Buy: Gogol Bordello: Super Taranta!)

I'm feeling a bit thirsty. Let's head out.

Nite Club
Friday Night, Saturday Morning
(Buy: The Specials (Featuring Rico): The Singles Collection)

Seeing double yet? Well, how about now?

Beer Barrel Polka
(Buy: The Andrews Sisters: 60th Anniversary Collection)
Beer Barrel Polka
(Buy: Roy Clark and Buck Trent: Banjo Bandits)

What's The Use Of Getting Sober (When You Gonna Get Drunk Again?)
(Buy: Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five: Louis Jordan & His Tympani Five [Original Recording Remastered])
What's The Use Of Getting Sober (When You're Gotta Get... )
(Buy: Joe Jackson: Jumpin' Jive)

Too Drunk To Fuck
(Buy: Dead Kennedys: Give Me Convenience Or Give Me Death)
Too Drunk To Fuck
(Buy: Nouvelle Vague: Nouvelle Vague)

In Heaven There Is No Beer
(Buy: Frankie Yankovic: The Best of Frankie Yankovic)
In Heaven There Is No Beer
(Buy: Brave Combo: Polkas for a Gloomy World)

Well, you don't have to go home, but, you can't stay here.

I Wish You Were A Beer
(Buy: Cycle Sluts from Hell: Cycle Sluts from Hell)

Closing Time
(Buy: Semisonic: Feeling Strangely Fine)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I'm From Jersey! Are You From Jersey?

A face only a mother (And, the entire State of New Jersey) could love.

Palace Amusements Building
Kingsley Street (between Lake and Cookman Avenues)
Asbury Park, New Jersey


For over 100 years, Tillie, the bug-eyed, high-collared, grinning beacon of Palace Amusements, reminded all (Well, me at least) of the glory and wonder that what was — once, the greatest place on Earth — the Jersey Shore.

Unfortunately, in 2004, amongst protests from the State of New Jersey's senior historic preservation officer, who reminded the Palace owners that the complex was listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places, and expressed her office's official position that "if saved, this complex could serve as a major tourist attraction as it did historically and be a cornerstone to the redevelopment plan of Asbury Park," the developers tore the building down. But, not before a little rescue mission.

Over four days in mid-June of 2004, Save Tillie members and a crew of sawing experts, steel fabricators and welders under the direction of Save Tillie member Gary Loveland of Universal Fabricators in Jackson, New Jersey, separated the Tillie mural from the Palace at the corner of Cookman Avenue and Kingsley Street. They sawed through foot-thick high density cinder blocks, and surrounded the mural with steel frames until the entire 16-foot high, 14-foot wide and 16 tons of Tillie were fully supported by the frame.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued a waterfront redevelopment permit to the City of Asbury Park and Asbury Partners, directing Asbury Partners to preserve artifacts from the Palace Amusements complex, a National Register of Historic Places building in Asbury Park, and to reuse the artifacts in a new building that will be constructed on the Palace lots. The permit stated:

"Prior to demolition of the Palace, the developer will work with the City and its technical review committee to identify certain parts of the existing Tilly [sic] mural and Palace Amusement building that will be relocated and preserved. The preserved sections will be incorporated into a new hotel development or retail development at this location as a part of the lobby wall. The images of the existing Palace Amusement Building shall be incorporated into the design and flavor of the new structure of [sic] the site."

I'm sure that in some future display, in some gentrified hotel lobby or public park, we will be able to once again enjoy the smiling face of Tillie, and think fondly, and sadly, of Palace Amusements.


I started this post trying to figure out how to post a few songs from a great new recording by yet another Asbury Park icon. A friend of mine just finished touring with his new 'Boss' (playing sousaphone, trombone, mandolin, penny whistle, and euphonium), and came by the house bearing gifts of a CD and DVD of concerts recorded live in Ireland.

They sounded pretty good. Here's a few tunes.


Old Dan Tucker
Further On (Up The Road)
Love Of The Common People
Pay Me My Money Down
Growin' Up
(Buy: Bruce Springsteen With The Sessions Band: Live In Dublin)