Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The little mac that could

Once I was offered a job at the Mac Store. They were opening up their first St. Louis location, I was pissed about something or another at the job I had at the time, and applied. Unfortunately, it was as a 3rd key gig. Not enough to pay the rent. But sometimes I think about it, like now as the Conficker virus threatens and PC folks are scrambling for protection.

While I don't keep up now like I should, at one time I was quite the Apple weenie. Mac magazines littered the living room along with Billboard, Rolling Stone, Performing Songwriter, Frets (RIP) and Gourmet. I salivated over all the new machines, software upgrades, clock chippers and icon makers. If there was a way to push a mac further and faster, I knew it. Extension conflicts? Clean up? Done and done. At home or at work, from Performas, to Duo-docked Power Books, to iMacs to a G3 Wallstreet Power Book, to a warhorse Sawtooth G4, my macs were stable, fast and reliable.

Then it got too easy. OSX came along, processors, hard drives and external drives grew, and life got simpler. The intuitive use of Apple, became even more so. Plug and play, indeed. I didn't have to be a weenie, I didn't even have to keep up to be happy. My G5 iMac came to me two years old and it's still got room to grow. It's an accounting office, a recording studio, a publishing house, a communications center, a photo studio and a movie house. What more could a girl want? Oh, yeah. That.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Folk in St. Louis: It's a big ol' Martin love-fest

The last two weekends in St. Louis have been a folk fan's banquet and a big ol' Martin guitar love-fest t'boot. March 21st brought John Gorka and Susan Werner to the Sheldon Concert Hall. I've been a fan of John's since hearing him on the Legacy compilation CD way back in 1989. He, Cliff Eberhardt, Pierce Pettis and Bill Morrissey restored my faith in "folk" or "singer/songwriter" music that year. His lyrics were sad and a bit wry, with deceptively simple melodies woven through the mood. Susan first came to my attention through a little concert series put on by Jill Stratton at Washington University in the mid '90's. I was instantly attracted to her wit, (or as she puts it, "smart mouth", amazing musicianship and vocal range, and common experience (raised Catholic, played guitar in church, had to run away from it, yet still strangely drawn). Double bills are never long enough, especially at the acoustically perfect Sheldon. With such a growing catalog to choose from, there'd be no way to cover them all. But John managed to sneak in "Angel With Your Hair" and Susan did "Movie Of My Life" so it was all good by me. And as a special treat, we got to see them play together at the end of each other's sets. It was fun and joyful for them as well as for the audience.

While Michael Peter Smith from Chicago is part of an older school of folk, with comtemporaries like the late Steve Goodman and John Prine, his brand of sometimes funny, sometimes sadly haunting acoustic music fits right in with Gorka and Werner. His songs have been covered by Steve Goodman, Jimmy Buffett, Suzy Boggus, Trout Fishing In America and the Clancy Brothers among others. Michael played March 28th at The Focal Point. Armed with his trusty D-35, (that was EQ'd to perfection!) he did not disappoint. Fan favorites like "Sister Clarissa", "Panther In Michigan", "Famous In France" and my favorite, "Zippy", kept the audience singing, crying and laughing from start to finish.

So next time you hear about how horrible the ticket prices are for the "big" concerts, how far away you have to sit, how much you have to pay for parking, how people talked through the whole show... Support the smaller tours instead. Up close, personal, gratifying and worth every penny. Leaves you enough change to have dinner out and buy a CD, too. They'll even sign it for ya, just ask.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Weed

I am a weed
Unwanted in prim gardens
Left for dead
Then blooming unexpectedly
In poor soil
Where someone stops to wonder
At quiet beauty
That few others ever see

I am a flower
Hiding on the forest floor
Peeking out
To bask in the pale sunlight
Of early spring
Pick me and I'll perish
Before your eyes
Have time to remember me

I am a wildflower
Fragile and ephemeral
Stubborn as a weed
Growing in a sidewalk crack
Allow me space
To spread my roots and tendrils
And I will bloom just for you

Monday, March 23, 2009

House of stone

In a park, by a lake, near a waterfall, in the woods, sits a house. What is left of a house. A house of stone. Grass carpets the living room and bed rooms, honeysuckle sprouts where breakfast was served. Understory trees stand cooking dinner in the kitchen for the birds and squirrels. Though modest by today's standards, it was quite the country home in the days of history past. Life was simpler; life was hard, but not without reward. Imagine cooling off on a summer's day in the shade of your very own bluff, splashing in a waterfall that's walking distance from your back door. Cooling milk and butter in the well by the side porch, picking berries from the woods for cobbler in July, living a life dictated by the seasons. Days in the stone house were numbered. Progress hastened its demise. Still, when I see its remains, it is alive. Alive with memories of someone else's mind.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

For the birds

Birds are a tremendous joy in my life. I could stand at my kitchen sink, staring out the window at the feeders for hours. They fascinate me. Flight. Imagine it. In dreams I have flown like a bird; swooping, diving, circling, climbing, wheeling away with the night. Even though it is just their way of life, sometimes they look so elated, like they are having so much fun. And if flight was not enough, there is song. In the morning they greet the day with seemingly endless verse; at night they sing down the sun. If only all my movements and communication were marked by such effortless beauty. If only I could be a bird.

Friday, March 13, 2009

What was the Foxfire Resort?

Somewhere on a blacktop farm road, around or between Prairie Creek, Little Flock and Rogers, Arkansas, sits Foxfire. As we sped past, I looked, but it was not enough. I needed to turn back and see more. Crumbling before our very eyes, the old red-barn style resort still spoke with a certain charm. A peek in the windows showed dust and disrepair of a recent variety. Someone made a go of it there until at least the early 1990's if the old "Natural State" poster is any indication.

An outbuilding housed a laundry, but there were no washers or derelict driers to be found. It was also supposedly the entrance to the pool, which quite oddly disappeared without a trace as well. The main building was still hung with signage telling guests where to check in and where the bathrooms and shower rooms were. Pieces and parts littered the grounds. A rusting refrigerator motor here, broken windows there, siding and overgrowth everywhere.

A newer house, seemingly occupied, set back behind the old buildings, so we did not want to trespass too aggressively. Still, I wished I'd seen if they were home. Did they own it? Who used to own it? When did it open? When did it close? Where on earth did the pool go? What were their plans for it now? After regretting the questions left unsaid, my imagination still ran with what could have been at the Foxfire Resort. Vacationing families, weekend adventurers, road weary drivers, lovers meeting secretly in mid-week. All now forgotten but the dust and ghosts. Someone must remember it. If you do, let me know.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Sweet peace

For three perfect days, I awoke to the sounds of the lake. Wind rustling through the still bare willows and oaks, water lapping against the dock, ducks, geese and songbirds getting ready for spring; it was what my soul needed. The unusually temperate weather allowed for porch sitting, both early and late. There is nothing like playing guitar and sipping late morning coffee on the deck while the work-a-day world spins haplessly around you. The rest of the day can wait. Time is still, the air is fresh; moments lost in thought are a treasure. For three perfect days there was sweet peace.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Just want to bang on the drum all day

Work was a four letter word today, and not one of the good ones, either. Just did not want to be there. Had other things on my mind. Anyplace would have been better. Okay, not anyplace, but pretty darn close. So I fired off an email to a friend two cubes down that said simply, "I don't wanna work, I just want to bang on the drum all day." She replied, "If you only knew how many times a day that song pops into my mind!" So I got coffee, I went to the bathroom, I walked around with paper in my hand so I'd look like I was going somewhere for a reason, I hid in a different friend's cube talking about driving, rock 'n' roll biographies and suicide for a while, I went and got some water, I cruised the fax machines looking for incoming, and I thought about Todd Rundgren.

Back in the record daze, I went to a convention and ended up meeting Todd and getting to sit around and talk for a good while. It didn't hurt that I fell into both the Todd-is-god school of production and the Beatles freak legion. He was gracious, intelligent and the epitome of geek-cool, even before there was such a thing. We gabbed about apple computers, over-stacked acoustic guitars and vocals, the echo chambers below the Capitol building, the Beatles and the Phil Spector wall-of-sound among other things. It was memorable, indeed.

And then I returned to my windowless, doorless, lifeless cubicle. No wonder I just want to bang on the drum all day.