A poet disguised as a rock star

Jason Isbell is a wonderful poet. He just doesn’t get as much credit as he should because he sets his poetry to music.

I saw Jason Isbell and his fantastic band The 400 Unit a couple of nights ago.

There were several “goose bumps” moments during the set… I just love his way with lyrics. He’s also a heckuva guitar player, and has one of the most soulful voices around. With his band, he can turn on a dime from all-out rockers to heartbreaking ballads.

Anxiety deals with the internal struggles he goes through, even when to the outside world he has it all – successful career, lovely and talented wife, adorable daughter:

It’s the weight of the world
But it’s nothing at all
Light as a prayer, and then I feel myself fall
You got to give me a minute
Because I’m way down in it
And I can’t breathe so I can’t speak
I want to be strong and steady, always ready
Now, I feel so small, I feel so weak

Anxiety
How do you always get the best of me?
I’m out here living in a fantasy
I can’t enjoy a goddamn thing
Anxiety
Why am I never where I am supposed to be?
Even with my lover sleeping close to me
I’m wide awake and I’m in a pain

White Man’s World deals with “white privilege”:

I’m a white man living on a white man’s street
I’ve got the bones of the red man under my feet
The highway runs through their burial grounds
Past the oceans of cotton

I’m a white man looking in a black man’s eyes
Wishing I’d never been one of the guys
Who pretended not to hear another white man’s joke
Oh, the times ain’t forgotten

There’s no such thing as someone else’s war
Your creature comforts aren’t the only things worth fighting for
You’re still breathing, it’s not too late
We’re all carrying one big burden, sharing one fate

I’m a white man living in a white man’s nation
I think the man upstairs must’a took a vacation
I still have faith, but I don’t know why
Maybe it’s the fire in my little girl’s eyes
Maybe it’s the fire in my little girl’s eyes

Last of My Kind is a fish-out-of-water tale of a farm boy from Arkansas living in NYC:

So many people with so much to do
The winter’s so cold my hands turn blue
Old men sleeping on the filthy ground
They spend their whole day just walking around
Nobody else here seems to care
They walk right past them like they ain’t even there
Am I the last of my kind?
Am I the last of my kind?

Daddy said the river would always lead me home
But the river can’t take me back in time
And daddy’s dead and gone
The family farm’s a parking lot for Walton’s five and dime
Am I the last of my kind?
Am I the last of my kind?

And Cumberland Gap reflects the struggles of a guy in coal country when the industry is fading and his town is dying:

Remember when we could see the mountain’s peak?
The sparkle off the amphibole?
Like a giant golden eagle’s beak
Now they say no one wants the coal

I thought about moving away
But what would my mama say?
I’m all that she has left and I’m with her every day
As soon as the sun goes down
I find my way to the Mustang Lounge
And if you don’t sit facing the window
You could be in any town

Maybe the Cumberland Gap just swallows you whole

I highly recommend that you catch a poetry reading this summer or fall.

 

 

Not ready for Prime time

Take a gander at all the fabulous things I bought during Amazon Prime Day:

Sorry that I didn’t get sucked (or suckered) into your retail vortex, Mr. Bezos. First of all, “Prime Day” is a contrivance intended merely to get us to open up our wallets, much like the Tooth Fairy, Sweetest Day and Cincinnati Bengals home football games. And secondly, what you’re peddling is all just “stuff”… and “stuff” doesn’t bring long-term happiness. In fact, buying stuff actually brings us down.

All the gadgets, gizmos and geegaws are no substitute for a walk in the park, playing catch with your kids or having lunch with a friend. When you start selling that, let me know.

 

 

Getting to the non-meat of the matter

Over the weekend, my older sister sent me a link to this article in Time. WeWork is taking meat off the menu, and won’t pay for meals that include meat:

The startup has told its 6,000 global staff that they will no longer be able to expense meals including meat, and that it won’t pay for any red meat, poultry or pork at WeWork events. In an email to employees this week outlining the new policy, co-founder Miguel McKelvey said the firm’s upcoming internal “Summer Camp” retreat would offer no meat options for attendees.

“New research indicates that avoiding meat is one of the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact,” said McKelvey in the memo, “even more than switching to a hybrid car.”

This is bad news for Arby’s.

But it’s good news for a planet that desperately needs it. WeWork’s new policy is a bold move – one that’s sure to get some backlash, yet one I applaud with my wimpy vegetarian hands.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go full Morrissey on you.

I gave up meat 27 years ago for health, environmental and economic reasons, and it’s worked for me, but I try to avoid prosthelytizing… usually. To each their own.

But “going veg” doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Perhaps there’s a less-meaty middle ground. Even a “meatless Monday” every week would be a big boon in reducing greenhouse gases, improving health and saving the planet.

Livestock alone account for more than 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and by 2050 the food sector could account for half if cuts are implemented in other sectors along the lines that countries have committed to doing. A vegan or vegetarian diet could cut those emissions by 70% and 63%, respectively.

Changing dietary patterns could save $1 trillion annually by preventing health care costs and lost productivity. That figure balloons to as much as $30 trillion annually when also considering the economic value of lost life. And that doesn’t even include the economic benefits of avoiding devastating extreme weather events that could result from climate change.

(from the Time article… and below are a couple  more fun facts from a CNN article about going vegan)

 

Perhaps it’s time for all of us to give peas (and pea proteins) a chance. Veggie options have come a long way in the past couple of decades.

Take a page from the WeWork workbook and ban the beef, chuck the chicken and pull pork from the menu, at least every once in a while.

C’mon, give it a try. The planet needs you.

 

 

Sunday morning coming down

A trifecta of odds and ends for your morning perusal.

  1. It’s the finals of the World Cup, with… that one team… playing… some other team. (Sorry, I know fútbol is the most popular sport in the world, but I just can’t get into it.)

I’m with Michael Cera

 

2. It’s hard to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor in a backyard garden when your garden looks like an illustration from a Beatrix Potter book:

Sorry for the fuzzy shot… my flip phone is only 3 megapixels, and I didn’t want to bother the bunnies while they were having dinner.

Those little buggers ate all of my cherry tomatoes. But they don’t like basil, apparently. Pesto, anyone?

 

3. I may not be into soccer, but it’s been fun watching the Reds lately. After an abysmal start, they’re actually playing decent ball. And they have the best defensive centerfield in the game:

It’s not the first time Billy’s stolen a homer from Matt Carpenter:

 

Enjoy your Sunday!

 

 

 

 

Days of future (of rock and roll) past

Last night I drove up to Oxford, Ohio to see my friend Dave’s son play guitar for the local band This Pine Box. But going to see the band was just a handy excuse, a smoke screen of sorts. Don’t get me wrong – This Pine Box is a great band. They’re getting some national attention and  they deserve it. But the real reason I made the long trek to Oxford was to see some old friends:

These are some of my homies from my days at 97X. Going left to right, it’s: yours truly, Steve Baker, Dave Tellmann, Gentleman Jim Mercer, Kathy Lucas, Billy D. the Fresh MC, Matt Sledge and Chris Adryan.

I could go on and on about each and every one of them (except maybe Kathy, because she spent a decade at 97X but that was after I departed), but suffice it to say the folks you see in the photo above, and dozens more that weren’t in Oxford last night, have fond memories of their time at a small-but-mighty modern rock station (a.k.a. “the future of rock and roll”) in a college town nestled among cornfields. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it was the least amount of money I ever made in a full-time job, yet it was the most fun I ever had at a workplace.

Seth Godin calls them “tribes”:

“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” 

For the 97X tribe, the shared interest was the music. And even though our station’s broadcast range barely covered parts of Cincinnati and Dayton, we certainly had a way to communicate. Not just on the air, but at the concerts and the promotional events. Not everyone could get 97X on their radio, and fewer still actually “got” 97X, but those that did made it a fantastic ride.

 

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