Father and award-winning magazine editor/writer with intense interest in the arts, history, reading and healthy living and fitness, particularly cycling to work and for pleasure. The following is just the barest tip of the iceberg. What do I believe? A lot; get a partial idea from my political web links over in the margin. Let’s just say corporate/oligarchic/neocon fascism makes me really, really angry. As Marlene Dietrich pondered, “What can you say about a man?” (-Touch of Evil, Orson Welles, 1958 )
ON THE ROAD
I bike and bus everywhere. I have a “fleet” of three leg-powered wonders: two rugged mountain bikes and one lovely old ’70s Nishiki Japanese road bike. I log about 80 miles a week for business and pleasure. Leg power costs $0 per gallon and keeps off the weight, big time. Try it some time and tell Saudi oil sheiks, Exxon executives and commodities speculators to go fuck themselves.
This is a major one for me, done up big. I listen and listen deeply; I do not play—the tragedy of my life. My vast collection of CDs and LPs breaks down in this rough order of preference/size:
Classical, Brazilian/Latino/Cuban, jazz and swing, world (African emphasis), blues (especially old country and prewar rural bluesmen), progressive rock, soul/funk of the ‘60s-‘70s, reggae, bluegrass/folk, cajun/zydeco, French retro pop. It took awhile, but I’m finally into hip hop and have developed a taste for alt rock of the ’90s.
FAVORITE THINGS BRAZILIAN:
• Elis Regina (1945-1982) is my favorite singing artist, period. In general I love mainly MPB (musica popular brasileira) from the 1930’s to the present, eg., bossa nova, some samba, some forro. Collection in the thousands and very deep. My favorite Brazilian LP is a 1974 one that nobody knows by a long-deceased singer-songwriter named Tuca. Portuguese is arguably the Earth’s most beautiful sung language. Here’s a list of my favorite Brazilian albums (in progress).
CAN UNDERSTAND A LITTLE:
Portuguese and Spanish. Listening to lots of Latino music helps me understand more. Am having a go at Pimsleur Portuguese lessons.
FAVORITE THINGS CLASSICAL:
* Eccentric historic conductors such as Furtwangler, Celibidache, Stokowski, etc.
* Partial to standard repertoire, with special fondness for Debussy’s La Mer and Nocturnes, Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (and the rest of the nine), the Sibelius Violin Concerto and symphonies 4 & 5, Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe, Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Brahms’ symphonies 1-4. Too many to list…
Lots of the old blues and folk: Robert Johnson, Barbecue Bob, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Bo Carter, Rev. Robert Wilkins, Blind Willlie McTell, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Willie Johnson, the Harry Smith collection and similar material, much more
AMERICANA, continued – BLUEGRASS:
10 years ago a station in Eminence, Ky.—WKXF a.m. 1600—played straight-up bluegrass (“made in Kentucky and played in Kentucky” was its motto), and on a summer day the low-wattage signal would waft across two counties through the humid air and send this musical nirvana to Louisville and into my Realistic Patrolman radio while I worked and played in the backyard of my suburban estate. WKXF is my favorite station of all time for the format it had during that short time. Alas, that mid-to-late ‘90s phenom died ignominiously and the station was forced to sell out to the evil empire of homogenized Nashville country crap. It was sweet while it lasted. Kentuckians don’t appreciate their own original genre of music. Louisville’s urban gospel stations continue to be good listens during at least part of the day, as does WTMT a.m. 620, Spanish language music radio. NPR and the FM Louisville public radio stations all have their strengths, too (see Radio below).
The DEFINITION of MUSICAL ARTISTRY:
Lightnin’ Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, Tito Puente, The Boswell Sisters, Celia Cruz, Carlos Gardel, Elis Regina, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Gal Costa, Joao Gilberto, Baden Powell, Benny Goodman, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, Elvis Presley, James Brown, Stan Kenton, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Otis Rush, Chico Buarque, Toninho Horta, Curtis Mayfield, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Bill Monroe, Hank Williams (Sr.), Johnny Cash, The Stanley Brothers, John Fahey, Greta Keller, Marta Sebastyen, Amalia Rodrigues, lots of classical and jazz artists, etc. etc.
Regular broadcast radio is less a part of my life than it used to be. However, on weekends I like the traditional Spanish-language music on WTMT 620 a.m. in Louisville, and the Sunday morning swing and jazz programming on public radio 91.9FM WKPK, Louisville. Also, classical music occasionally on 90.5FM WUOL. I enjoy the lascivious fun on the Howard Stern show on Sirius satellite radio and lots of internet radio shows, especially conspiracy rabble-rouser Alex Jones, who is the most entertaining and passionate broadcaster at the moment. I enjoy the liberal internet radio outfits such as NovaM (with Randi Rhodes), Radio for Peace International, Democracy Now! and Pacifica Radio. A more recent discovery is Batanga radio, with a wide selection of Latin musical genres. Itunes offers hundreds of great, free streaming stations from around the world. The three Louisville Public Radio Partnership stations are all fall-backs and go-to listens for me as well, with great jazz, classical, bluegrass-roots and other programming. African-American gospel on the Louisville AM dial is great too. There are lots of alternatives to shitty corporate radio.
Music Blogs are plentiful for every kind of genre (even yodeling). Check out Mega Super Mammoth on this website. I’ve gotten tons of great stuff not otherwise available, thanks to these bloggers.
The BOOB TUBE’S WINNERS:
Broadcast TV is of no interest to me, apart from PBS documentaries and specials and the Fox animated shows. I’ve never had cable or satellite, and probably never will. 100+ channels of pure zilch…
The shows that I’ve really loved through the years have been: Northern Exposure (my favorite), The Prisoner (’60s), PBS documentary series (such as Frontline, American Experience, Vietnam: A Television History, Cosmos, The Gate of Heavenly Peace, etc.), The Honeymooners (my fave sitcom), The Avengers (the Diana Rigg/Emma Peel episodes), Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Family Guy, The Simpsons, Seinfeld, Kolchak: The Night Stalker (’70s), Star Trek (the first three series), MASH (making a comeback in my affections), Lou Grant (obscure Mary Tyler Moore spinoff from the ’70s with Ed Asner as liberal crusading city editor), Green Acres (surrealism on the farm). I haven’t seen every episode of The Twilight Zone or The X-Files but enjoyed the ones I did see, some of which were among the best things I’ve seen on television. The black and white seasons of The Andy Griffith Show also merit mention; the episode where Opie shoots a bird chokes me up every time.
The ESOTERIC CINEMA
This is as bad an obsession as music. I’ve notched 10,000 films and lost count. My goal of seeing every acclaimed movie in existence is pretty much complete. The idea was to write a book about this; the manuscript sits half done. Here are a few favorites among the thousands:
The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1928), Ikiru and The Seven Samurai (Kurosawa, 1952 and 1954), The Rules of the Game (Renoir, 1939), All Quiet on the Western Front (Milestone, 1930), Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick, 1999), The Red Shoes (Powell/Pressburger, 1948), His Girl Friday (Hawks, 1940), The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah, 1969), Apocalypse Now, and on and on.
* Film actors and actresses (a few who gave some of the greatest screen performances of the last century): W.C. Fields, John Barrymore, Robert Ryan, Dirk Bogarde, Carole Lombard, Maria Falconetti, Toshiro Mifune, Jimmy Stewart, Al Pacino, William Holden, Lee Marvin, Bogie, many more.
* Film directors: Luis Bunuel (my fave), Akira Kurosawa, Orson Welles, Alain Resnais, Jean Renoir, Kenji Mizoguchi, Buster Keaton, Carl Dreyer, Ingmar Bergman
* Guilty Pleasures: ’70s car chase (Vanishing Point, The Driver, The Cannonball Run) and some exploitation films (The Switchblade Sisters), Hong Kong crime and action films, Busby Berkeley’s The Gang’s All Here (a twisted masterwork), etc.
* Musical motion pictures (Yes, a straight man can revel in musical fantasy, so fuck off!): The Young Girls of Rochefort, Singin’ in the Rain, The Band Wagon, The Gang’s All Here, 42nd St.
* Some memorable reads: Don Quixote (Cervantes), Of Human Bondage (W. Somerset Maugham), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain), Life on the Mississippi (Twain), Beowulf (Seamus Heaney translation), Das Kapital (Marx), Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte), Great Expectations (Dickens), A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess), The Jungle (Upton Sinclair), Animal Farm (George Orwell), Hiroshima (John Hersey), Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Hunter S. Thompson), Adolf Hitler (John Toland), The 900 Days (Harrison Salisbury), Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad (William Craig), The Quiet American (Graham Greene), The Fatal Shore (Robert Hughes), Spy Catcher (Peter Wright), Good Night, Sweet Prince (Gene Fowler), Minutes of the Last Meeting (Gene Fowler), Christmas Story (H.L. Mencken), Centennial (James Michener), Free Speech For Me But Not For Thee (Nat Hentoff), Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (Richard Hofstadter), And the Band Played On (Randy Shilts), Fast Food Nation (Eric Schlosser), In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (Peter Matthiessen), Lolita (Nabokov), The Catcher in the Rye (Salinger), This is Orson Welles (Peter Bogdanovich), The Name Above the Title (Frank Capra), Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison), Groucho Harpo Chico and Sometimes Zeppo (Joe Adamson), The Aquarian Conspiracy (Marilyn Ferguson), Night (Elie Wiesel), The Sheltering Sky (Paul Bowles), Faces of the Enemy (Sam Keen), The Waste Makers (Vance Packard), Alamein (Stephen Bungay), Vietnam (Stanley Karnow), Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life (Sissela Bok), The Bridges of Madison County (Robert James Waller), Into Thin Air (Jon Krakauer), One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Solzhenitsyn), Stranger From the Depths (Gerry Turner; a childhood favorite), McElligot’s Pool (Dr. Seuss; the first book that expanded my mind about the interconnectedness of things), etc. John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces was amusing, but didn’t make the cut despite it being the favorite book of one of my friends. Sorry.
SOME OTHER STUFF I’M INTO
* My boys. One natural, two inherited. Quite a challenge; triumphs and disappointments. All the stuff about raising them is too complicated to elucidate in brief.
* Cats (my emotional arc for these critters has gone from irrational fear to unconditional love).
* Bottled Spring Water (at least until the water company stops dumping toxins like fluoride and chlorine into tap water; I don’t like all the plastic, though. I recycle).
* Wine (Cab, Pinot, Merlot, Shiraz; dark reds mostly. Whites in summer. Have consumed absinthe and very expense Dow’s Port as well.) Alcoholism is not cool (having lived with an alcoholic); I drink in extreme moderation. Beer (just about anything except Molson)
* Chocolate (but trying to resist).
* Healthy foods. Buying as locally and naturally as I can. Adhere to a mostly vegetable-based diet. Soy milk exclusively for cereal. Reading ingredient labels to ensure I am not intaking high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, partially hydrogenated trans-fats and so on (It’s actually not that hard to cut this shit out, even as pervasive in the industrial food supply as it is). I don’t eat beef, pork or drink milk and have scaled back to very little chicken and virtually no fish (too expensive anyway). But cheese, oh dear cheese, that I cannot part with (I know, it’s congealed milk).
* Growing my own stuff (tomatoes and hot peppers this year).
* Keeping my weight at a svelte 155 lbs. or less.
* Biking/cycling, on and off-road. Seeing the world by legpower – daily and hard.
* Reading (fiction and non-fiction); history, especially WWII.
* Riding the bus. Got rid of the car a couple of years ago. I spend $0 on gas.
* Attending live performance of classical, jazz, bluegrass and other music.
* Exploring the nooks, crannies and people of my city (biking makes this easier).
* Ocean body surfing; looking to expand into rock climbing and more hiking.
* The American West (have seen a good deal of it).
* Museums; old-school ones like the Art Institute of Chicago and the Field Museum of Natural History, not the kiddie-targeted ones.
* Old musty bookstores, although Half Price books is a good-enough suburban fascimile.
* Astronomy and the natural sciences.
* Digging up stuff; found some cool old medicine bottles this way. (This includes dumpster diving).
* Paranormal/UFO/conspiracies and wacko books and radio: Coast to Coast AM, The Alex Jones Show, etc.
* Just about anything anti- the George W. Bush and Dick Cheney regime and pro-The Constitution and civil liberties.
* Progressive social and political leadership.
* Existentialism and pondering on the nature of consciousness.
* Women who smile at me. That is the best.
HEROES, IDOLS, ADMIRABLES
* (Check out some of the people I dig, here: Some People I Admire (for various reasons)
WHAT I COULD DO WITHOUT:
* Neocons and their aftermath
* Jazz drum solos (get on with the music already!)
* The harpsichord (the piano was invented for a reason)
* The automobile (let’s get on with progress already!)
* Cell phones (spawning the next generation of brain cancer we all will have to pay for, except for telecom executives. They’ve already spawned sociopathic loner behavior.)
* Cell phone drivers (study proves they’re as bad or worse than drunk drivers)
* The mediocrity (or worse) of current American culture.
* Most sports (a waste of time, money, energy, and a fatal diversion from important things). Having said that, I used to be a sports nut.
* Amusement parks. (Are we having fun yet? NO !!!!!! Get me out of this manufactured Hell !)
* Hip hop (doesn’t a little of this go a long way?)
* American Idol (doesn’t a little of this go a long way?)
* Unfunny comedians of our time: Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, David Spade, Mike Meyers, etc.
* The contemporary contempt for sentimentality and melodrama. I certainly can exhibit jadedness, but increasingly I’m finding cynicism, sarcasm, hipness, toughness, faux-rebelliousness and the nonchalant cool masks that everyone wears today to be more corny than an honest vulnerability and an open heart. We used to be this way, and I’m thinking it was a good thing.
* Lack of respect for the past and for the dead. It’s a trait of what I call “the arrogant living.”
* SUVs, “Hummers” and their arrogant, militant “drivers.” (I wish we could go back to the good old days when a hummer referred to a nice, wholesome all-natural blowjob.)
* Coffee shops. If you’re already hip, you’ll be hip at a coffee shop as much as anywhere else. If you’re not, a coffee shop will just magnify your un-hipness. Plus, $5 for a coffee is for suckers. (I changed my mind on this; I dig Sunergo on Preston Highway).
* Fluoride (it is a toxic poison—your toothpaste tube even says so.) I use Tom’s of Maine non-fluoridated toothpaste. My gums love it too.
* Hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup and artificial preservatives in our food (you can thank these “cheap” additives for America’s very expensive epidemics of heart attack, obesity, diabetes and cancer). Organics cost more, but pay now or pay later.
* Luncheon and deli meats. Tasty, but laden with nitrates. If they preserve animal flesh, whaddya think they’re doing to your cells?
* Overzealous religious types who can’t separate church and state.
* Gay bashers and other such haters.
* Animal abusers.
* Suburban sprawl.
* The Drug War.
* The “Patriot” Act.
* People who say things like “ketchup is a vegetable,” “trees pollute the atmosphere,” and “cow farts are responsible for global warming.”
* Corporate, oligarchic control of American and world politics.
SOME STUFF I’VE DONE and/or SEEN:
* Saved a man’s life with CPR (the whole shebang, mouth-to-mouth and his cartilage and ribs breaking under my hand compressions; he made it another week on life support, which at least bought his family some time.)
* Hiked the Grand Canyon and have seen most of the American West. Places I’ve visited there include: Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Crater Lake, Mt. Lassen Volcanic, Redwood, Sequoia, King’s Canyon, Zion, Rocky Mountain, Grand Teton as well as non-national park areas such as the Navajo Nation, Monument Valley, Jackson Hole, Wyo., Boulder and Colorado Springs, Colo., Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam, Flagstaff, Ariz., San Francisco (including Point Reyes National Seashore and the John Muir Woods), and Sonoma, Calif., (where I toured the Sebastiani winery and was served a sourdough sandwich by a friendly gay man.)
* Had dinner with Isaac Stern, the renowned violinist (sat 3 feet from me, face to face) and the late national radio host Karl Haas at an expensive French restaurant.
* Sired a boy and fathered two additional stepchildren. And what can one say about the splendors of marriage? Indeed, what can one say. I’m still trying to figure it out.
* Almost died of dehydration as a baby.
* Saw an unruly tiger shot at the Kosair Shrine Circus; I was about 5 or 6 years old; there are probably lingering subconscious psychological remnants from this.
* Rode in a hot air balloon and on the Belle of Louisville steamboat during Derby Festival Week.
* Whitewater rafted in West Virginia, including some rated-5 rapids.
* Have won more than 40 awards for journalism (writing and editing), but if you read this blog you may wonder why.
* Survived wreck in which car was totaled and was punched nicely in the head by airbag. Emerged with minor whiplash.
* Fell from top to bottom of the basement stairs as child, or so I am told (my mind neatly blotted out this memory).
* Have attended many classical concerts including performances by the Vienna Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony and, of course, the Louisville Orchestra. Some conductors I’ve seen include Leonard Bernstein, Sir Charles Mackerras, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, etc. Some performers I’ve enjoyed include Rudolf Serkin, Isaac Stern, Nathan Milstein, Andre Watts, Nadja Solerno-Sonnenberg, Nigel Kennedy, Kathleen Battle, etc. I’ve attended only two operas: Fidelio and Figaro (The Marriage of…)
* Used to enjoy live jazz at defunct clubs such as Fat Cats, where I saw the late Jimmy Raney.
* Saw Rex Harrison reprise his famed role as Prof. Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady in Chicago in the early 1980s.
* Some brushes with fame (some notables whom I’ve been in spitting distance of: John Wayne, Pres. Bill Clinton (shook his hand), Bob Hope, General William Westmoreland, G. Gordon Liddy, John Dean, James Whitmore (actor, two rows back as he performed his one-man show as Harry Truman, Will Rogers, etc, and his spittle literally flew on us), Isaac Stern, Linus Pauling (2-time Nobel winner), Alex Trebek, Chuck Berry, Dave Brubeck, Jose Ferrer, Dick Butkus, Victor Jory (Louisville’s own, actually found myself conversing with the actor as he was taking a leak in the next urinal.)
* Most enjoyable live show I’ve attended: This was probably a 1989 Lonesome Pine Special at the Ky. Center in Louisville featuring classical violinist Nigel Kennedy tearing it up with folk-bluegrass fusion artists Sam Bush, Jerry Douglass, Mark O’Connor and Edgar Meyer. What a show!
* Saw Leonard Bernstein fall from the podium after leading the Vienna Philharmonic in Chicago in 1984 (Google the words: bernstein podium fell). This was witnessed by only a few hundred people, so I feel real privileged. Lenny survived with a bruise to his chest and to his ego.
* As a young lad I attended some games of the long-defunct American Basketball Association’s Louisville franchise, the Kentucky Colonels, where my friend Jerry and I were awestruck by our afro-haired hero, center Artis Gilmore. We saw him hold his own in one game against his formidable arch-rival Dr. J !
* I attended a college hoops game circa 1980 in which Darrell Griffith led a hopelessly straggling University of Louisville Cardinals team (they were 20 or so points down with a few minutes to play and thousands were streaming out of Freedom Hall, having given up on the team) to an astonishing comeback spurt in which Dr. Dunkenstein rallied his teammates to an eye-popping victory against Purdue. This was without doubt the most exciting game I’ve ever attended. It gives me twisted satisfaction that all those fair-weather fans missed out on it…
* Rode out an F-0 or F-1 tornado that hit our house about five years ago (our roof was entirely replaced).
* Saw a silver UFO zipping around in the blue sky in the early 1980s. I was not dreaming, drunk or on drugs, even though:
* I have partaken of doobies.
* Once accompanied friend to the home of a drug seller where a password was required for admittance and it was just like something out of Pulp Fiction; people were laying around tripping in the dark rooms in the middle of the day with black lights and psychedelic posters and the whole bit. Interesting to see – once.
* Observed up-close the birth of my son, and have seen a bone marrow transplant operation as a reporter. The first made me ecstatic, the latter nearly made me faint.
* Made thousands of $$ in five figures selling stuff on Ebay and Amazon since 1999.
* Have viewed 10,000-plus films.
* Won awards for some of my (now-defunct) websites.
* Have twice stepped on nails sticking out of boards that went clean though my foot. Tetanus shots both times, of course.
* Actually ate, and liked, liver cheese and drank Big Red as a child. In bygone days I qualified as a Pleasure Ridge Park (Ky.) dietary redneck.
* I have seen sausage made at a meat factory, and yes, you do not want to know.
* I have read Tolstoy’s War and Peace
As Seen On TV!
Back in the 1980s I twice appeared as a guest journalist/panelist on a Kentucky Educational Television (KET) business program. I was caked with makeup, baked under the studio lights, asked the interviewees two or three softball questions and got $50 for each of the two half hours. Easiest money I ever earned.
* Japanese giant monster movies
* Robert Goulet’s Wonderful World of Christmas album
* Egg sandwiches with mayonnaise
* Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, Barbra Streisand recordings; singers that straight guys aren’t supposed to like
* The Dream Academy’s three 1980s albums
* Grand Theft Auto, I became obsessed with versions 2 and 3 of this game for awhile, even though I sometimes felt physically ill at the violence I had to commit to survive and win in the game.
* The smell of wet, musty concrete (had to throw a really weird one in)
* The Gong Show
* The Howard Stern Show
Useless, special skills
* Can hold my breath under water for several minutes
So, Let’s Recap with some highlights. I have:
* flown in a hot-air balloon
* traveled most of the American West
* seen a UFO
* appeared on TV twice and been paid for it
* been to a drug-seller’s house, as an observer
* saw Leonard Bernstein fall from the podium in Chicago
* eaten dinner with Isaac Stern in 1988
* saved a man’s life with CPR
* survived a tornado
* observed the birth of my son
* written thousands of published articles in newspapers, magazines and on the web (and been paid for them).
If I Were King of the World
* Yeah, yeah, world peace and all of that.
* I would require everyone to be able to whistle or play on an instrument all nine symphonies of Beethoven as a condition for high school graduation, and require that they do the same for Mahler’s 9th Symphony and at least three of the four Brahm’s symphonies to complete college. I might throw in a Bach Sonata or Partita, too. There would be no Cliff’s Notes for these babies. I would generously allow a 30-percent margin of error.
* I would limit corporate control and power to more local and people-centered outcomes, as outlined in David C. Korten’s books, When Corporations Rule the World and The Post-Corporate World.
* I would allow the watching of NASCAR only by people who’d proven basic competence in civics, history, and political rhetoric, at which point nobody would care to watch friggin’ cars go ’round and ’round a friggin track.
* Banning stuff is a tricky business, because doing so creates an irresistible allure and foments rebellion. Still would I ban Pauley Shore, David Spade, Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler from show business? Yeah, pretty much.
WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP:
In my youth I seriously considered careers in architecture, filmmaking, cartooning, archaeology, marine biology, and teaching. I ended up in journalism, the worst paying of them all.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO DO:
Travel to Brazil.
FOR THE RECORD (a HEALTH REVIEW):
I pass the physical with flying colors. Aced the colonoscopy. No diseases and all original parts intact except for foreskin and tonsils, which were taken from me by medical science.
Hetero, although I’ve probably had my head turned by some androgynous types.
WHERE DOES MY BREAD COME FROM?:
I work for a large metropolitan higher education institution where I write and edit award-winning publications. My policy is to not discuss my workplace on my blog, or at least not name it when I do.