They’re an American Band

Lemme throw some names at you:

  • David Hidalgo
  • Louie Pérez
  • Cesar Rosas
  • Conrad Lozano

Chances are, 99 out of every 100 people won’t recognize those names. Heck, it might be more like 999 out of 1,000. And that’s a shame. Because those are the dudes that have been together in the band Los Lobos for more than 50 years. They were joined by the “newbie” Steve Berlin in 1982, and have been a fantastic five-some ever since.

Los Lobos’ new album, Gates Of Gold, comes out Sept. 25.

If you’ve never heard of Los Lobos, that’s a shame. If you’ve only heard their cover of “La Bamba” that’s OK, but you’re still missing out on so much great music.

They are a self-proclaimed “Just another band from East L.A.” But they’re so much more than that. This paragraph from their bio really sums them up nicely:

Los Lobos has sold millions of records, won prestigious awards and made fans around the world. But perhaps its most lasting impact will be how well its music embodies the idea of America as a cultural melting pot. In it, styles like son jarocho, norteño, Tejano, folk, country, doo-wop, soul, R&B, rock ’n’ roll and punk all come together to create a new sound that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

Amen to that! You could rightfully argue that they are the quintessential American band. Children of immigrants (Conrad, Louie, David) or immigrants themselves (Cesar), joined by a kid from the East Coast (Philly) who had moved to the West Coast to pursue his music dreams.

Last night I saw Los Lobos in concert. I’ve seen them many times and they always crush it.

They opened for Little Feat, a band that has only one original member left. If it were up to me, the roles would be reversed. But I get the sense that the members of Los Lobos don’t really care about “headliner” status. They’ve come a long way from being a wedding band.

“If you were married between 1973 and 1980 in East L.A., we probably played your wedding.”

Louie Pérez

They’re not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Now there’s a real shame.

While regarded as highly influential and deserving by many, the iconic East L.A. band Los Lobos has surprisingly not yet been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after being eligible for almost 20 years

They haven’t gotten what they deserve – but that’s out of their hands. Instead, they use their hands, hearts and voices to always give the fans what they deserve: a stellar set of music.

Will the Wolf survive? Heck yeah! Not just survive, but thrive!

The Heat is On… and on… and on.

Hot enough for ya?

The “Heat Dome” has descended upon the Midwest. Welcome to the Terror Dome.

Meanwhile, Southern Florida got flooded last week.

We have only ourselves to blame, really. By ignoring the warnings from scientists. By turning a blind eye to alternative energy sources instead of incentivizing them at scale.

“Given that we’ve seen an unprecedented jump in global warmth over the last 11 months, it is not surprising to see worsening climate extremes so early in the year,” said University of Michigan environment dean Jonathan Overpeck. “If this record pace of warming continues, 2024 will likely be a record year of climate disasters and human suffering.”

From this AP roundup of climate disasters a couple of weeks ago.

And the ones who suffer the most are the poor and elderly.

Help is on the way. It just needs to get here sooner. Here’s an excerpt from the 6/1 post on Bill McKibben’s excellent — and aptly named — Substack called “The Crucial Years”:

But here’s the thing: At the exact same moment—the same string of months—that the planet is beginning to unravel, human beings are finally accelerating the only real response we have: the rapid rollout of sun, wind, and batteries. The rate at which we’re adding renewable energy capacity jumped fifty percent last year. A new report this week found that wind and sun aren’t just growing faster than fossil fuels—they’re growing faster than any electricity source in history.

The rise of wind and solar has been stemming the growth of fossil fuel power, which would have been 22% higher in 2023 without them, Ember says. This would have added around 4bn tonnes of carbon dioxide (GtCO2) to annual global emissions.

Nevertheless, the growth of clean electricity sources needs to accelerate to meet the global goal of tripling renewables by 2030, Ember says. 

Meeting this goal would almost halve power sector emissions by the end of the decade, and put the world on a pathway aligned with the 1.5C climate target set in the Paris Agreement

Even in India, the share of electricity generated by coal dropped below 50 percent for the first time since 1966. There’s every sign that, globally, 2023 saw the peak in global emissions; all those solar panels are not just accounting for growth in energy demand any more, but beginning to cut into the actual consumption of fossil fuels. Now the job is to make the decline so steep that we build enough momentum to begin catching up with the physics of global warming.

It is a terrible story, almost unbearably tragic. But its ending hasn’t been written yet.

The more we harness the sun, the fewer unbearable heat waves we’ll have to endure. The more we lasso the wind, the fewer destructive hurricanes we’ll have to witness.

It’s science… and a chance to salvage the planet.

thanks for your support.

Gather round, kids. Grandpa Dubbatrubba’s gonna tell you about a time when there was this thing called “radio.” You could listen to “stations” that played different types of music – you know, like those Spotify “Daily Mix” playlists.

And certain stations — they were usually the small ones, semi-neglected ones, with weak signals, would play all sorts of music that other stations wouldn’t. Up-and-coming bands with weird names. It was called “college rock” and it was amazing.

And if you were a “college rock” band and you wanted to tour, you had to make connections with other like-minded bands. And maybe your parents helped out:

So much has changed about the music business. But there’s still room for “college rock” bands. And they still need friends and family to help promote them.

Buffalo Tom‘s new album Jump Rope came out on May 31st.

They’re still great.

They’re doing a bit of touring, mostly the East and West Coasts, with some European dates, and then a three-night homecoming festival near their Boston hometown.

Tell a buddy, and bring a friend.

Oh, and a bit closer to home, a band called The Collies has been added to the bill for a show at Madison Live in Covington, KY this Sunday. Father’s Day. My oldest son is in that band. They get a cut of the tickets they sell. Want one? Call the drummer’s dad. If you sound like you’re from the South, I’ll talk to you for an hour.

Ohio: The Place to Meet… and Meat!

Article from the Columbus Dispatch:

  • The meats were immediately shipped to the nearest Golden Corral restaurant.
  • Police have started a steak out. If any suspects are apprehended, they will be grilled.
  • Deciding which government agency is responsible for the disposal has become a bone of contention. (Several bones, actually.)
  • This is what happens when your family goes vegan before the big Memorial Day cookout.
  • Clearly someone has beef with a Washington County neighbor, but they’re too chicken to confront them, and accomplices are afraid to squeal.
  • Grandview Hill Road has been renamed Meat Pile Drive.
  • “Captain Eric Hunter”? More like Captain Eric Gatherer!
  • The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile was spotted fleeing to the scene.
  • Soon to be a major motion picture entitled Animal Farm 2: Revenge of Farmer Jones
  • Civic slogan has been changed to “Meat me in Washington County!”
  • The president of the local chamber of commerce was just trying to create a new roadside attraction to compete with Rock City:
  • Morrissey has gone too far this time:

And finally…

9 Simple Words. 1 Amazing Message.

Easy to say, easy to remember… but really tough to put into practice. The vast majority of social media can make us feel inferior – it engenders a lot more envy than empathy. And most advertising is designed to make us want “more” when what we already have is more than enough.

Maybe less content (noun) will make us more content (adjective).

Happiness – it’s not a pursuit, it’s a state of mind.

[Shout-out as always to Grateful Living for the great gratitude reminders via their daily email.]

Making Pies. Making me cry.

I hate Alzheimer’s disease. But I love pie. And I love that someone is using the latter to fight the former. And someone else is shining a light on it.

Chris Joecken is someone I met when he was a student at Cincinnati State, and he was looking to break into the video/agency business. Great kid. Now he’s using his talents to tell powerful stories, and bring light and love into the world.

Here’s what he posted on LinkedIn yesterday:

Made with Love by Helen from Chris Joecken on Vimeo.

Beautiful. Simply beautiful. I know Helen makes fruit pies, but someone must be cutting onions in here. Those “ripples” are streaming down my cheeks right now.

Chris’ post is right on point. Thoreau said “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” but I think most of us have it within us to be more like Helen, and channel our energies toward lives of humble service. A pebble in the ocean, maybe… but enough to make a ripple.

What can we do with our sorrow? How can we be stewards of what we already possess? How can we transform our pain into something beneficial for others? 

Chris Joecken

How are you making pies today?

Time is a Flat circle… or a Hoop

Basketball is a young person’s sport. The average NBA career is 4.5 years. The average WNBA career lasts just 3.5 years.

But then there’s Taru Tuukkanen. Not only still playing in her native Finland, but winning championships… and being named the MVP of the finals with her 13-point, 13-rebound, 14-assist triple-double. Not bad for a 46-year-old.

Excerpt above and quotes below are from this nice feature on Taru by Shelby Dermer on (Taru played college hoops at Xavier.)

Yes, Taru’s been blessed with good genes – she’s never had a major injury. But she also has the will to keep going.

“I have the passion and a crazy mind that I cannot get enough basketball, I understand it’s not normal at all for someone to still be able to do this.”  

Taru Tuukkanen

It’s not normal. But it’s certainly admirable. Taru found something she loved, and she kept at it. The games are the easy part… it’s the long hours of practice, with no cheering crowd, that require a higher level of commitment.

Most of us never play in front of a crowd. But whatever we do, we can only get better through the hard work. The long hours. The practice. Yes, we talkin’ ’bout practice…

You’ve gotta be willing to put in the work. And you will, if you love it enough.

“I’ll know when it’s time. I don’t want to play if I’m not good. As long as there’s a team that wants me and I feel like I can give something to them, then why not keep going?”  

Why not keep going? Words for every middle-aged person to embrace. And be the MVP in a league of their own.

Home is where the music is

Mark, Lisa, and Chuck are coming over tonight.

[Photo credit: Michael Wilson]

We’re gonna hang out in the living room.

Oh, and 35 other folks — many of whom are complete strangers — will be coming over too.

Mark, Lisa, and Chuck are members of the Cincinnati-based band Wussy. Weird name, brilliant music.

[Photo credit: Jerry Burck, Plan B images]

Wussy rocks! Tonight, they’re going to bring their amazing songwriting to life in an intimate setting. And that gets me right where I live.

The show is part of Chuck and Lisa’s house concert tour. A company called Undertow organizes these tours for Wussy and several other artists. They take care of ticket sales and all the other details. You can host a show… or see one. Check out the current roster here. In my email exchanges with Jayne from Undertow, I thanked her for what Undertow is doing to bring great artists to folks all over the country. Her response:

She’s right, I do give a damn about artists like Mark, Lisa, and Chuck. (They also happen to be super-kind human beings… a huge bonus!)

Music is my happy place. Home is where the heart is. Tonight, I get the best of both worlds. It’s gonna be beautiful.

I’m a Quitter

I set a goal to read 52 books this year – one a week. And I was crushing it. 18 weeks into the year, I’ve got 17 books under my belt.

But I’m bailing out on my books goal.

I’m taking a page from Kenny Roger’s book (ha!) and knowing when to fold ’em.

Why? Because it was an Arbitrary Stupid Goal (also the title of a great book by Tamara Shopsin).

But mainly because I’m a sprinter, not a marathoner. I’ve always preferred short stories (Ray Bradbury is my hero) and short, medium, and long articles.

I subscribe to The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Cincinnati Magazine. And those issues have been piling up in my “to read” stack. I also like reading the Sunday paper. I was basically trading reading timely content for reading timeless content. There’ll be time enough for the latter — to paraphrase Kenny Rogers — when the dealing’s done. And the guilt of not reading the magazines and papers was outweighing the joy I got from the books.

I’ll still read plenty this year – including more books. But reading should bring me joy, not baggage. And I’ve learned that it’s OK to walk away.

[This post is approved by the ghost of Kenny Rogers.]

Here and Gone

Our youngest kid finished up his freshman year at Indiana University a couple of days ago. He came home yesterday. I use the term “came home” very loosely. I saw him for all of five minutes. He’s got other priorities now. Off to see his girlfriend. Home for about five minutes to change clothes, then off to play volleyball with his friends. Then to a friend’s house to watch a movie and hang out. This old man was long asleep when he came rolling home.

He’s already made plans to spend Memorial Day Weekend with his Hoosier friends from Indianapolis. They’re going to the Indy 500.

I feel like he’s already IN the Indy 500 – racing here, racing there… rarely making a pit stop at home. It’s part of the growth process, I know. But it’s still tough when you become a bit player in your baby boy’s life. He’s more “gone” than “here.”

The child born at dawn,
By evening has moved on, grey and gone

Buffalo Tom “Here I Come”

I know life is fleeting. I just wish the pace car went a little slower. Instead, I’ll have to cherish the pit stops.