Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Seven Nation Armies

 When I was travelling to Saskatchewan through North Central Montana, I did some research on the area, and was immediately acutely aware of the Indigenous presence in Big Sky Country. Little known towns like Harlem, Cleveland and Chinook that were nothing more than a gas station/general store in most cases.

Off the beaten path, I found Bear Paw Battlefield. The site of the last war between our Government and the Native tribes, who were later forced to live on "Reservations" separated from the developing towns along the newly laid railroad tracks bringing more white settlers and immigrants from Europe and Scandinavia. I stood alone facing a giant field with only the sound of a mild Chinook wind blowing through the grasslands.

I felt very small at that moment.

I came away from the experience with a great deal of respect for what the original dwellers went through here. Back home, I only knew of a few native Americans. One of them was a former Hockey Player who spent some time playing for the Springfield Indians, and was named "Chief" by his teammates due his full-blooded Cree background. None of this seemed to bother him, because he was playing the sport he grew up loving at a professional level, and was enjoying the status and cheers from the fans. If the fans and the actual players didn't seem to mind the Native American imagery... did it matter what other people thought?

Fast Forward to Today: The world's news is in everybody's hands for you to publicly respond with at any time or volume, and our culture is widely circulated and the public has been increasingly weighing in on the issue. Within the past year, two professional sports teams have changed their names. The Cleveland Indians are now known as the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins are now known as the Washington Commanders. That leaves the Chicago Black Hawks, The Atlanta Braves and the Kansas City Chiefs. My opinion is that any faces depicting Native Americans should not be used, and no word describing them should be used either. The Black Hawks definitely need a do over (call them the Hawks or simply use a Raptor as a mascot) and the other two teams need to at least limit what they associate with their names. The Braves probably don't get a pass, even though one could argue the term in plain English could simply mean "courageous" as it was applied to soldiers. However, that is walking a very blurry line. In the case of Kansas City, one could easily translate it to being "The Boss"- like Chief of Police, Fire Chief, Chief Inspector, etc. 

They could even have a mascot wearing a Fire Helmet! 

Problem Solved! Right?

The bigger problem is the fan culture that surrounds these games. 

Watching the Chiefs play in their most recent playoff contest, I was frustrated at the sight of fans in the loud stadium still doing the very dated "Tomahawk Chop" arm gesture and chanting a stereotypical melody, that only exists in old Western Movies. Fans don't seem to want to get rid of this tradition, but have recently been forced not to wear feathered headgear and warpaint.

Why did that take so long?

People have argued that it is a symbol of celebrated tradition, or an honor of our nation's heritage.

If that's your thing? Maybe keep it in the parking lot during the tailgate party, or just at home in front of the TV.

In the end, it really is about getting with the times, and in some cases, progress is being made and things are headed in the right direction. Time will tell how soon and how much that change will happen. I hear "Seven Nation Army" is a popular chant in football stadiums these days, which is a good start.



Monday, January 30, 2023

January Blues

 Last week I was able to walk about with no snow and mild temperatures

It was a different story a few days later/

We have only gotten a few inches of snow this winter, with 4" falling with this latest bout. Not bad, considering the blizzards and Nor'easters we are normally accustomed to. With only 48 days until Spring, I'm looking forward already. 

Meanwhile. I still promised to go walking pretty much every day, regardless of the weather. It's still makes for pretty pictures. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Walk This Way


Most every day, I manage to go walking. 

It's something I set for myself to do pretty much every day. There's not very much traffic.

A giant cornfield, which has been preserved by the town to avoid having it become a bunch of high priced homes. They've done a good job at keeping things rural, so as a result, deer, geese, fox, bear and many other wild creatures visit the area. Sometimes, the sound of a large group of Canada geese can be deafening.

Sunsets can be very nice too.

Monday, January 2, 2023

What's My Age Again?

 I turned another year older. Luckily, I had some friends to help celebrate my birthday, by throwing a Christmas/Holiday/Birthday bash. Most of my friends are musicians, so we got down to business right away. I played with many of them on various instruments.

By the end of the event we had dozens of performers, poets and even more guests partying away and having a blast. It did my heart good to make so many people feel good.


Sunday, December 11, 2022

Catch 22 (Reflections)

 2022 Started playing to a large festive indoor crowd. Something unheard of the past few years. But then I was thrust into the bleak winter slowly getting back to normal playing wise. I got COVID by the end of January I recovered very quickly, and was back at it a week later.

Valentines Day was on a Monday. Super Bowl Sunday was the night before. I booked a Grand Suite at the Hotel Northampton, so I could wake up on Valentines Day with a hot tub, two balcony porches and all of Northampton surrounding us outside.


April was about family, as my girlfriend's dad passed away, and we flew down to Florida for a memorial dinner in Fort Meyers. We rented a U-Haul to bring back a few family belongings, and visited Saint Augustine on the way back. I had never been to Fort Meyers, and I'm sad to see the damage from the recent Hurricane that struck the area. Just as I was getting to know the place and have it be a part of my life. It won't stop me from coming back, but the next visit will be just as sad as the last.

In June, I took Amy's two kids up to New Hampshire and stayed in an old house near the boardwalk at Lake Winnipesaukee. A throwback to my childhood.

Summer is flying by at a massive pace. I get a guitar gig in Brattleboro playing Beatles songs for Rock Voices. Then We get to see Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe at the Pines Theater, which was an amazing show. A few weeks later, we would be on the same stage playing a Janes Addiction tribute for a tribute concert benefitting the Northampton Arts Council.

Fall was in full swing, and we took a road trip to North Carolina, where Amy and I performed an alumni event at Greensboro College. We stopped in Chincoteague, VA on the way back.

Not long after playing the part of Janes Addiction, we got to see the real band play in Boston (opening for Smashing Pumpkins). We found a hotel right on top of the TD Garden.

Halloween had its usual craziness, and we managed to land a fun gig as a duo playing at Six Flags in Agawam. One of the last outdoor shows of the year.

Winter closes in, and the club gigs just keep on happening. So many weddings that got put off due to COVID and so many fundraisers and private events. All of it came rushing back in at once. 

Hey! Bring it on, it's been three years after all!

Brewfest. Mohegan Sun.

The Big E


Avery Point. Groton

The Pavilion. Olde Lyme.

Crystal Bees. Southington

The year winds down. and a few more holiday parties fill out the schedule.

Saint Clements Castle. Portland.