New year, old friends

This past weekend, Mrs. Dubbatrubba and I joined 23 other old-timers for a weekend stay at Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky.

“The Daniel Boone National Forest embraces some of the most rugged terrain west of the Appalachian Mountains. Steep forested slopes, sandstone cliffs and narrow ravines characterize the land.”

It’s only a couple of hours from Cincinnati, but it’s light years away from the rat race. A great place to unplug, unwind, and reconnect with nature. A New Year’s Restitution, if you will.

The older brother and sister-in-law of our neighbor are the instigators, they’ve been gathering the ol’ gang down there every January for years. Last year, thanks to our neighbors, we were added to the crew.

Happy hour and a leisurely and lovely potluck dinner Friday evening. Long hike (with an on-trail lunch break) on Saturday, followed by another happy hour and potluck meal, then carousing until the wee hours (which for our age bracket means 10:30). A shorter hike Sunday morning, then back to the reality of jobs and kids (or grandkids in some cases) and bill payments and oil changes and the other quotidian duties that can fill your calendar but not fill your heart.

Saturday crew (photo credit: dubbatrubba)

Saturday’s hike was challenging… quite a few narrow ledges and snow-covered 2×4 board bridges, with a few icy spots throw in for good measure. But the sexagenarians (and one septuagenarian) were up to the task. And the scenery payoff was worth it.

Eat your heart out, Chihuly!

You can keep your Ritz Carlton and your high-society parties, I’ll take a rustic cabin in the woods and some down-to-earth friends any day.

Sunday morning hikers.

Cornering the market on weird names

Believe it or not, I actually have to pay money to operate this blog. But I do it gladly so that you, the few, the proud, the dubbatrubba blog faithful, can get your semi-weekly dose of semi-coherent ramblings. You’re welcome (not sure if I should punctuate this with a question mark or an exclamation point…maybe I’ll do both)?!  

The company from which I bought the domain (surprisingly, there was no bidding war…) is always trying to sell “extras” to me. Their latest pitch gave me pause: 

Whoa, I can actually get too? I’m thinking I should lock it down, and corner the market on goofy names. Perhaps later I can sell at a profit to Three Men In A Tub, LLC. 

But what really got me was the fact that “” isn’t considered a premium domain, yet “” is. 

Guess I’ll have to spend the weekend figuring out other ways to “monetize” my site. 

It Never Rains in Southern California…

… except for 2 of the 3 days we’ll be there.

That’s OK, we’ll still have fun.



Being There. But Jay’s not here.

NPR is streaming an album of outtakes, demos and alternate tracks from the 1996 Wilco double album Being There. I love listening to it, because that album was fantastic, and a quantum leap forward from Wilco’s debut A.M. the previous year. The difference-maker was Jay Bennett, who joined the band between those two albums. A multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, engineer and producer, he took Wilco from their alt-country roots to a more expansive, experimental sound. Ask pretty much any Wilco fan and they’ll agree that the three Wilco albums that feature Jay Bennett are the golden era of Wilco. My buddy Joe and I saw them play during that era at a crappy little club in Cincinnati (R.I.P. Ripley’s), in front of about 40 fans, and Jay was amazing, moving from guitar to organ to piano to pretty much whatever instrument was lying around on stage, cigarette dangling from his lips, long blonde hair flopping in front of his face. It remains one of my top 5 concerts of all time.

Jay got kicked out of Wilco by bandleader Jeff Tweedy in 2001, shortly after they finished recording their epic Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album. (Some of the drama is captured on camera in the documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart.) He released a few solo albums but largely faded into semi-obscurity, a footnote in the career arc of Wilco. That’s a shame, because without Jay Bennett’s prodigious contributions, Wilco might never have become the critic’s darling that they are today.

“When Jay was with Wilco, he really expanded the palette of the kinds of sounds and the instruments and arrangements that they were doing,” Loerzel says about him today. “You know, maybe Jeff Tweedy would have moved in that direction on his own, but Jay certainly helped him, and I think the two of them grew together in the band.”

What’s even sadder is that Jay Bennett died in 2009, from an accidental overdose. His health insurance wouldn’t cover his much-needed hip replacement surgery, so he was using a prescription painkiller – a fentanyl patch – to fight the pain while he worked to raise money to cover the surgery. (Think about that when you hear talk of repealing the Affordable Care Act.) He died in his sleep, at the age of 45.

I can’t listen to the outtakes album without thinking about Jay. Wilco is much more polished now, but I miss that grit, that soul, that energy. A couple of folks are making a documentary about Jay, and have already reached their Kickstarter goal. Check out the trailer below.

And check out these articles for more about Jay.



There’s a party going on right here…

Looks like Cincinnati is a good place to be for New Year’s Eve if you really want to cut loose… in a fiscally responsible way. WalletHub crunched the NYE numbers using criteria like “legality of fireworks,” “average price of a New Year’s Eve ticket,” and “forecasted precipitation” to rank cities and the ‘nati wound up #6 on the list.

After you ring in 2017, you can stick around for the beer. Cincinnati is #4 on the smartasset 2016 list of top cities for beer drinkers


… and we got some pub(licity) from Thrillist (“The 15 Coolest Things Coming to US Cities in 2017“) for our beer tour.


Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go to Blank Slate Brewing and fill my growler with their fantastic Opera Cream Stout.


Time to go to Chvrch

I like indie/alternative/cutting-edge music, but within that broad and hard-to-define genre, I tend to stick with bands that have a traditional guitar(s)-bass-drums setup ala my old favorites like the Replacements. I’m not a dancer (as my wife will readily attest) and usually don’t go for the newer bands that skew toward dance/electronic music. That said, I’m really digging the new album from Chvrches, a band that consists of two dudes on keyboards/synths/sequencers/whatchamacallits and a female lead singer.

chvrches band photooo

Check out this video from their performance of “Clearest Blue” from The Late Late Show. Granted, the instrumental break sounds eerily similar to Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough”… but it’s a real toe-tapper for sure, and I love the lead singer’s frenetic energy.

Lead singer Lauren Mayberry also has some strong words for the trolls that populate the interwebs. Here’s a key passage:

“It’s just one of those things you’ll need to learn to deal with. If you’re easily offended, then maybe the music industry isn’t for you”

But why should women “deal” with this? I am incredibly lucky to be doing the job I am doing at the moment – and painfully aware of the fact that I would not be able to make music for a living without people on the internet caring about our band. But does that mean that I need to accept that it’s OK for people to make comments like this, because that’s how women in my position are spoken to?

I absolutely accept that in this industry there is comment and criticism. There will always be bad reviews: such is the nature of a free press and free speech. When you put your work out there, you are accepting the fact that people will comment on it, but it is your choice whether you read it or not. (Kathleen Hanna sums this sentiment up nicely in this interview.)

What I do not accept, however, is that it is all right for people to make comments ranging from “a bit sexist but generally harmless” to openly sexually aggressive. That it is something that “just happens”. Is the casual objectification of women so commonplace that we should all just suck it up, roll over and accept defeat? I hope not. Objectification, whatever its form, is not something anyone should have to “just deal with”.

Chvrches new release is called Every Open Eye. It’s wonderfvl.


chvrches album cover



In other breaking news, water is wet

Saw this “news alert” on my phone recently:

h is bad


Wow, turns out heroin is bad. Who knew?

In fairness to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the report is a thorough examination of the flaws in the current arrest/treatment system, and well worth a read. But they really need to work on their teaser headlines.


Kickin’ it old school

My 15-year-old son likes:

  1. sleeping
  2. AC/DC songs
  3. going to yard sales

Not necessarily in that order. Last weekend I took him to a few yards sales, and was really intrigued by the things I saw at them. A few observations:

You could safely sum up 99% of the electronics that you’ll find at any yard/rummage/tag sale as “stuff that’s been replaced by smart phones.” Digital cameras are a dime a dozen (sometimes literally). Cassette recorders. Mini-cassette recorders. Micro-cassette recorders.

P.T. Barnum said “there’s a sucker born every minute” and apparently every one of those suckers bought a fondue  set in the  70s.

Yard sales are where officially over-the-hill kids TV show characters go to die. Barney now truly knows what it means to be a “dinosaur.”

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Some folks have never heard about the switch to digital TV. Or flat screens. Or even cable.

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How lazy do you have to be to not be able to flip through ties?

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But our rummaging wasn’t all in vain. We went to the sale at the nearby Catholic grade school and got a couple of old school desks for $5 a pop.

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(Unfortunately they didn’t come with a guarantee that my kids will study. I’d have paid another $5 for that feature.)

That school sale was also trying to unload this sweet Sprite  backboard from back in the “lymon” era:

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I would’ve bought it except for the warning:

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Sorry, I’ve still got hops and was going to go all Darryl Dawkins on it.

But Sirius-ly, folks

One of our cars has Sirius/XM satellite radio in it. Having worked at a “college rock”/indie/alternative radio station in my younger days, I like to listen to the XMU channel that plays, according to their description “new indie rock.” (It’s a vain attempt to keep up with what the kids are listening to these days, I realize.)

I do like most of the music they play, but their variety is sorely lacking. They will play the heck out of a handful of songs, over and over. I take the bus to work most days; the only time I drive the car is when I’m shuttling kids back and forth to sports practices – about 20 minutes a day at best. And I wind up hearing the same songs each time… right now I’m almost guaranteed to hear Best Coast or Jamie XX on my short commute. Sufjan Stevens has a great new album out, but they only play one song off of the album… and they play it constantly.

There’s plenty more variety in the indie rock world, but you’d never know it by listening to XMU. Where’s the Calexico? Where’s My Morning Jacket? How about the new one from Surfer Blood? San Fermin? Bueller?…Bueller?

I suppose part of the issue is the 200 channel universe that Sirius XM has created – it tends to segregate artists into tidy little compartments, whereas I prefer more of a grab bag approach to playlists. I shouldn’t have to flip channels to hear a singer-songwriter followed by a raucous rocker.

At least there are still some radio stations that do a great job of mixing things up. KEXP out of Seattle is the one I like the most… and I can stream their station via the web. Check out their playlist from this morning – a great mix of new songs, with some New Order and Dylan as well.  That’s more like it!



No more Late Nights or Late Shows

Tonight’s the final Late Show broadcast for David Letterman. The end of an era. Now I know how the older generation felt when Johnny Carson signed off, because just as they grew up with Johnny, I grew up with Dave. I’m old enough to remember his ill-fated, short-lived daytime show… which I thought was hilarious.

When Dave debuted on Late Night in February of ’82, I was a senior in high school and living in an apartment without adult supervision. (We’ll save that story for another blog post.) So I had no curfew, no set bedtime…  I tuned in to Dave, Paul and the gang and their nutty antics darn near every night, and recited the skits and witty banter the next day at school. Dave was my hero. Some found him to be too snarky or too aloof, but I absolutely loved his wink-at-the-camera/it’s- all-a-facade style. Through the rest of high school, college and beyond, I was a regular attendee at his late night cavalcade of craziness. I got in to see a taping of his NBC show once, via a standby ticket, and was thrilled beyond words. I even had a “brush with greatness” when I was visiting my dad in Brooklyn and happened upon Larry “Bud” Melman, who lived in the same neighborhood. I was going nuts like a teenage girl at a Beatles concert, and my father had no idea why I was so excited to meet this elderly, elfin man.



Of course, real jobs, marriage and kids have greatly curtailed my late night viewing habit. But just knowing that Dave was there if I needed him was comforting. Hard to believe it’s been 33 years.


Good night, Dave. Good night, Paul. Good night, Guy Under the Seats… and thanks a million for a million laughs.

In this photo provided by CBS, David Letterman, host of the “Late Show with David Letterman,” waves to the audience in New York on Thursday, April 3, 2014, after announcing that he will retire sometime in 2015. Letterman, who turns 67 next week, has the longest tenure of any late-night talk show host in U.S. television history, already marking 32 years since he created "Late Night" at NBC in 1982. (AP Photo/CBS, Jeffrey R. Staab) MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE, FOR NORTH AMERICAN USE ONLY

In this photo provided by CBS, David Letterman, host of the “Late Show with David Letterman,” waves to the audience in New York on Thursday, April 3, 2014, after announcing that he will retire sometime in 2015. Letterman, who turns 67 next week, has the longest tenure of any late-night talk show host in U.S. television history, already marking 32 years since he created “Late Night” at NBC in 1982. (AP Photo/CBS, Jeffrey R. Staab) MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE, FOR NORTH AMERICAN USE ONLY