been a busy last few days, what with daily concerts and all, so here's a compendium of what's been going on with a few editorial comments:
1) tour de france: first of all, team columbia is kicking derriere. yes, my favorite non-team-columbia spaniard, alejandro valverde, (not to be confused with my least favorite non-team-columbia spaniard, the blood-doping manuel beltran), is only a minute and 12 seconds off the pace in 6th overall, so very much in the hunt, but the HUGE story is america's team, and their indefatigable cadre of (non-artificially-enhanced) super humans. their isle-of-man-er mark cavendish has already grabbed TWO stage wins, their luxembourger kim kirchen, impressively holding both the green AND the yellow jersey, sits firmly atop the standings, their swede thomas lovkvist has catapulted the best-young-rider and it's white jersey into 10th place, and the team overall sits comfortably in second, thanks to inspiring performances as that of their german gerald ciolek, who not only shepherded stage winner mark cavendish to the front of the final spring yesterday, but retained the strength to hold off every other world-class sprinter in the pack to take second place for himself. inspiring stuff. (more later today!!!)
2) home town throw down: the mighty mighty bosstones move up to top billing on this one for me, though its impossible not to love the dropkick murphys as the show's headline act. dickie barrett and the boys were as tight as i've ever seen them, (and that's TIGHT), and had the kids in an uproar long before even the sun went down. the murphys only delivered the ass-kicking coup de grace. (avec mickey ward onstage yet again, natch, though no comment from the mickster on his ongoing assault beef). rumor has it, according to one of the cops on site, that over 100 barrels of beer were consumed at the mosh pit concessions alone. i counted over 20 barrels emptied at the little table near where we were camped out, and the story was that the concourse concessions were sporting lines 40 minutes long all night, and one can only imagine how much beer that equals. and just one single arrest. it was the happiest punk-fest you could imagine, and a night to remember. oh, and i almost forgot... the opening act, civet, sported four of the most foul-mouthed, sweet-dispositioned female punkers you could ever meet, (they were personally signing tour souveniers at the souvenier tent after their set, with a line of testosterone-intoxicated fan boys snaking past the beer line waiting to have their pix snapped with 'em), and they delivered my personal favorite stage name for the day, "susie homewrecker", along with some great music. i didn't opt for any of the civet merch, but i did snag a murphys tour poster sporting the lelacheur details that we can talk about next:
3) memorabilia: so there was this tour poster i just HAD TO HAVE. i put my cash down, and bought it. so the next day i googled (it's what us geeks do) frame shops and discovered one right on the other side of the pawtucket canal, just steps from my front door. what a find!!! did you know that the very first two casualties of the american civil war, both lowell boys, are buried beneath the obelisk on the plaza in front of the lowell city hall? guy r. lefebvre, who runs the lowell gallery on jackson street, knows. he also knows where to get ahold of full color surveyors maps of the shangri-place, and that's absolutely the next acquisition on the docket. but this trip was to place the tour poster (and ticket stub) under glass, and in a couple of weeks when the job gets back i'll be adding something very cool to my little home art collection, and picking out the frame for the next one. i've also got my eye on an incredible oil painting of my fave canal (the pawtucket, you know it) that features my very own building in the background. that one'll have to wait until a major windfall comes in, (oils can be expensive), but it sure would look nice here. y'all should come see.
4) indigo girls: (with the emphasis on "girls"). i don't think there can be two audiences more ironically disparate than those between the murphys and the girls. one are a set of hormone-addled, breast-obsessed uber-devotees who know every word and sing along to every song, and the other... wait a sec... ok, there are those details about the penises and the moshing that make one impossible to confuse with the other, but you have to be impressed with how much the indigo's audience loves their band. to everyone's credit, the indigo girls are, in my opinion, two of the most talented musicians to ever harmonize on stage, and their show at boardinghouse park was a wonderful exposition of all that and more. (i did have to smile at the fact that their keyboard player was a green-spike-haired grrl who could rock a pretty impressive squeeze box, and who might have likewise visually fit in among the civet quartet, even if her musical style was a bit more lavender and patchouli). great stuff.
5) a well regulated militia being necessary to the defense of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed: i took my eight-hour firearms safety course yesterday afternoon, and found it well worth the investment of time. the instructors from instructional shooting, inc. were top-notch, (thanks jay and greg!!!), and the material both fascinating and compelling. i haven't talked much here about the fear and awe in which i hold trains, but lets say to start that there's nothing about a five hundred thousand pound locomotive (yes, that's right, they generally weight more than 250 tons, and that's not even counting the following cars and contents) that isn't equalled in my sober appreciation by even just the *potential* for the consequences of firing a single 50 gram bullet. it took me almost an hour of class time before i was not viscerally nauseous that the instructor was holding a real live (unloaded, with the additional precaution that there was no ammunition of any kind in the room, and he interrogated every one of us before starting that we didn't have any in our pockets before he'd continue) firearm whose muzzle would quite frequently pass across our direction, (lets face it, no other way to demonstrate in front of a group of 20, and i get the necessity, and appreciate it), and i found that, even hours later during the target sighting drill, i couldn't even bear to look down the sights whenever he was anywhere in the vicinity of my practice target. guns are that scary. so here's the mantra:
* muzzle ALWAYS in a safe direction
* finger NEVER on the trigger, unless and until ready to fire
* gun ALWAYS unloaded, with the action open, until ready to use
i can also recite the unloading drills, and what to do in cases of hangfire and misfire and squibs, for both revolvers as well as semi-automatics, (and both single and double action of each), and i can tell you that guns scare the ever living hell out of me MORE now that i have been that much closer to the bald truth that, once a trigger is pulled, it's something in this world that can never be taken back. i appreciate like i can't find words to express that the average police officer will never unholster and discharge his or her weapon in the line of duty over the duration of their entire career, alongside the fact that they are all trained incessantly for even the barest possibility that they might have to some day, and i think that's something we all need to respect and consider next and every time we're contemplating our various local tax bills, because people bearing arms are doing so in the face of other people bearing arms, and there's nothing more sobering and serious and important than that. (i'll digress to point out that we need to prioritize armor-plated humvees and full kevlar for all our troops--only THAT is supporting them--and anything less is an insult and a treason, and i do mean to say that i believe our current president is deserving of both charges in our own congress, as well as more in the hague, but where was i).
yes, guns do, indeed, kill people. we need to know about them more, not less. and, as afraid as they make me, and how critical i believe is strong licensing and regulation, i also believe it is critically important that we live in a country where they are constitutionally protected and guaranteed to all, especially FOR THE DEFENSE OF A FREE STATE. i think we should all contemplate our commitments to our patriotism, and understand how important this issue remains, no matter how we feel about self-defense and the overwhelming statistical odds that guns will eventually deal more harm to their owners than to anyone else, but sometimes to others too, and those are always terrible things. but our freedom is that important. 500,000 pound locomotive important. more.